The holidays – it's the time of the year that for many brings about joyous family gatherings and the occasional ugly holiday sweater party.
But it's also the busiest travel season because of the number of holidays within a span of a month. From Nov. 24 to Jan. 1, 2017, the major holidays are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
Traveling before and after those days is sure to cause you a headache if you need to catch a flight to head back home. Due to high demand, the holidays are also the most expensive time to travel.
Purchasing those airplane tickets can cause some buyer's remorse. It's the holidays, so of course you want to see your family. Yet, the prices are high and will definitely make you feel a little uneasy.
The longer you wait to book your tickets, the more you'll end up paying. So while the calendar just made the transition into the fall, it's actually your last chance to get a great deal when booking your holiday travel plans.
How to pay less
October is generally thought of as the latest time of the year to still book airfare at a relatively reasonable cost, NerdWallet explained. While September is ideal for traveling around Thanksgiving, October is suitable to look for tickets to travel during Christmas.
The days you fly will have an impact on pricing. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the busiest days to go up in the skies are Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 .
Looking to pay less? Strongly consider traveling on the day of the holiday. Let's say you live in Chicago and are hopping on a 7 a.m. flight back to Columbia, Missouri, to go home for Thanksgiving. A nonstop flight will be under 1.5 hours. Factoring in airport navigation after you land and catching a ride back home, you're looking at an approximate travel time under three hours.
By leaving at 7 a.m., you can arrive back home no later than 10 or 11 a.m., well before the Thanksgiving dinner.
Likewise, flying on Christmas is also an affordable option.
However, it's understandable if you don't want to travel on the actual holiday. After all, if you're heading back home, you might want more time to catch up with family and friends still in the area.
As such, you'll want to look into flying during less popular periods. NerdWallet stated these times are Nov. 25, Nov. 29 and Dec. 19 - 21 . You may be able to take an extended trip without using up too many of your vacation days by asking your supervisor if working remotely is acceptable.
Paying for the flight
Now you have to figure out how to pay for the flight. It's in your best interest to utilize a credit card because many provide perks for travelers. You can check to see what these benefits are because even if you fly once or twice a year, you can still benefit.
If you travel more often, the holidays are an ideal time to use any reward miles you may have built up. Doing so can lessen the financial burden.
Above all, you'll need to ensure you adjust your budget accordingly. The holidays are fun, but they can also get quite expensive. The earlier you book cheaper flights and set money aside, the better you'll feel once you head back to the office on Jan. 2.
. The Best (and Worst) Days to Travel This Holiday Season
. A Winning Strategy for Saving on Your Holiday Flight: Book Early, Use the Right Credit Card