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Tips for Booking Holiday Travel in 2022

booking holiday travel online
Allianz - booking holiday travel online

The air is crisp and leaves have changed through much of the U.S. And with that shift comes increases in airfare and other travel fees, as we inch closer to the holiday season. The cost of flying has been on the rise since late summer, and has skyrocketed for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

Part of the high cost is due to pent-up demand, as Americans are eager to jet set and gather with family and friends post-pandemic. Inflation, the rising cost of jet fuel, and staffing shortages in recent months, have also contributed to increasing airfare. In fact, for Christmas 2022, the cost of domestic airfare is projected to grow 31 percent compared to 2019, with a round trip averaging $463.

Here are the best days to book holiday travel to avoid paying top prices, smart alternatives to flying, and the easiest days to travel during the traditionally busy season. 

Am I too late?

Assuming you’re reading this because you haven’t decided on your holiday travel plans; the absolute best time to book was as early as late summer, and no later than mid-October. But don’t panic if you still haven’t booked a flight. If you can be flexible and proactive, you can make it under the wire. 

Be willing to fly on non-peak travel days, which has the added benefit of shorter airport wait times. Thanksgiving travelers could save an average of 5 percent on airfare by flying on the Sunday, Monday or Tuesday before the holiday instead of Wednesday, flight data analyzed by Expedia shows. And if you can swing flying the day of, the best deals are on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. 

Many domestic airlines offer the option to put a hold on a desired airfare if you’re not yet sure of your plans. If that option is still available to you, don’t weigh it in the hope that you will find a better price. At this point, if you’ve found an airfare you’re comfortable with, book now before it’s gone!

Should I drive, fly or take a train?

Keep in mind that due to often astronomical costs, flying isn’t always the cheapest option these days. To save money, you may want to consider driving or taking the train. Distance and number of passengers are the primary factors in this cost decision. If you live in Maine and plan to visit your family in Los Angeles for Christmas, then flying could be the least expensive option due to the cost of gas, lodging and time.

But if you’re traveling a shorter distance, driving often wins out, especially with your partner and kids in tow; you’re avoiding the per-person cost of a ticket. If you’re solo, then train travel is a great option for when you want to save money by not flying, and don’t want the hassle of driving. And you can usually bring more with you without paying extra baggage fees. 

Should I use my airline miles?

If you have miles saved up, the holidays can be a good time to use them to avoiding spending cash on high ticket prices. But be sure to read closely, because airline award miles used during the holiday travel season often have lower value than when applied other times of the year.

If you’re weighing using your awards, TPG’s points and miles valuations and awards vs. cash calculator can help determine if it would be better to use cash or miles. You may want to save those points for spring and summer travel, when redemptions tend to be higher. 

How can I anticipate snags?

Travel insurance is a must, as airlines continue to grapple with staffing shortages that have resulted in costly flight delays and cancellations. Allianz Global Assistance provides travel insurance benefits for a broad range of budgets, that reimburse covered expenses for trip cancellation and delays.

If you’re seeking coverage for a single trip, our OneTrip Prime and OneTrip Premier plans offer free coverage for kids under 17 when traveling with parent or grandparent (not available on policies issued to Pennsylvania residents). In addition to trip cancellation and delay, in covered instances benefits include emergency medical and transportation coverage, reimbursement for lost or delayed luggage, and 24-hour assistance.

Decided to drive to meet the in-laws this holiday season? Cancellation benefits apply for covered reasons even if you’re not flying. You can also add rental car coverage to your plan for $11 a calendar day; a rate that’s often cheaper than insurance purchased at most rental car counters.

Let’s say you, your mother and siblings rented a cabin in the Adirondacks for a long Thanksgiving weekend, but your mother suffered a fall before the trip that requires medical treatment.  You want to cancel the getaway, but you’re beyond the deadline for receiving a refund. Due to the illness of a family member, trip cancellation benefits from Allianz Global Assistance would reimburse covered non-refundable expenses, such as your cabin reservation. 

Get a quote today to find out how Allianz Global Assistance can help make your holidays stress-free.

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