Save money on holiday travel by booking flights early

Stretching Your Dollar
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Traveling during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays is the priciest time of the year, but it’s not all bad news.

The good news: ticket prices will be about 8% lower than last year, according to airfare prediction app Hopper.

The first tip to saving on travel is to book as soon as you can. Halloween should be your booking deadline for Thanksgiving and Christmas trips. Each day the calendar flips past Oct. 31 will cost you an estimated $1.50 per day, then $6 per day in the last 10 days before Thanksgiving.

If you're traveling for Christmas, look to purchase airfare 10 weeks before your departure. Every day closer will cost about $1.60 for the average round-trip. But If you go early in the morning on Christmas or New Years, you can save 20% and will still have time to celebrate.

Most travelers don’t know about this money-saving method. Airlines sell in what are called "fare buckets." So, if you requested four tickets for the family, the airline may show you a more expensive fare bucket that had all four seats available at that price. Instead, buy the cheapest tickets one or two at a time, as long as they're available. Then buy the rest at the higher price.

Even if you like a given airline, look for better deals. Many sites like Google Flights compares prices from different airlines, all in one place.

Also, watch out for hidden fees. Don't rush to book the cheapest fare right away without research. Sometimes, low-cost carriers charge for printing boarding passes at the airport or for bringing a carry-on bag.

A final tip: if you’re bringing gifts, you may want to consider shipping them if they are heavy or will cost you extra on your flight. It’s often quicker and cheaper to ship packages versus taking them on the flight with you.

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