Why now is when you should book winter holiday travel

Photo (c) Robert Wilson - Fotolia

Booking early can save a lot of money

If Amazon can have a Black Friday sale in July -- its Prime Day is next Tuesday -- maybe it's not too early to book your winter holiday travel.

In fact, travel site Cheapflights.com says now is the "sweet spot" for making your airline reservations. It reports the most affordable holiday flights during Christmas week can be found between now and mid September.

If you know where you are going, and roughly when, the Cheapflights Guide can help you find the optimal times to find the best fares, depending on where you are going. The guide may also show you how to save if you are flexible on dates and times.

Best times to book

For example, consumers who plan a trip to Las Vegas at the end of the year should be booking now, 23 weeks in advance. The week of July 16 may be the best time to find low fares to Atlanta and Denver.

Going south of the border for the holidays? The Guide says the last two weeks of July are prime time to book travel to Mexico City and Guadalajara.

You can wait a little later to book travel to Florida for the holidays. For Orlando, a good time is the week of August 6. For other Sunshine State destinations, the week of September 17 is best.

For trips to Los Angeles, the Guide suggests booking the week of September 3, and for travel to New York, the week of September 24.

Procrastinating can be costly

The folks at Cheapflight say booking in advance means making plans in advance. Deciding on plans early will allow you to save some serious money, especially if the whole family is traveling.

Flexibility will also be helpful. If you are flexible about when and where the family will get together, you can jump on the most affordable fares.

Be aware of the calendar. Christmas and New Year's Day both fall on Monday, meaning Friday and Saturday flights those week will be most in demand. If you can travel midweek, it will not only be less hectic but cheaper as well.

And don't forget it's winter. It's not a bad idea to check out what your travel insurance options are through the airline, your credit card or your travel rewards program. Traveling well in advance of a holiday gathering will also give you a little wiggle room.

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