New data released today by Expedia® indicates holiday travel planning is underway and the top choices for Christmas escapes are sunny beachside destinations and mountaintop getaways. While many of these destinations are already seeing strong demand, it’s important to know that it’s not too late to book.
“Whether you’re hoping to spend your holidays on the sand or on a ski slope, the best way to find a great value just requires a bit of flexibility in terms of your travel dates and taking advantage of the savings that are out there,” says Christie Hudson, senior PR manager for Brand Expedia. “For example, members save 10% or more just by booking on the Expedia app, which is a great way to get more bang for your buck during the holiday season.”
Holiday Trip Planning Tips
- Flight booking tips: Booking holiday airfare is all about timing. While booking well in advance can yield savings, often it’s just as important to be flexible with travel dates to avoid the busiest travel days. According to Expedia data, the most expensive travel dates around the holidays is Thursday, Dec. 23. And for those planning a post-Christmas trip, avoid departing on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Here’s when to fly:
- Historically, shifting departure dates to the week before or after each holiday will yield savings. For example, departing between Dec. 13-17 could save travelers more than 10 percent. Traveling on Christmas Day also often results in cheaper fares.
- Consider a trip in between the holidays: Currently, prices for domestic flights in early December (from the 6-17) are around 15-20 percent cheaper than they were for the same timeframe in 2019.
- Start the year off right: The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a very popular travel week and prices often reflect that. A more budget-friendly itinerary would be to depart on New Year’s Eve and spend the first week of the year on vacation.
- Getting the best value on accommodations: It’s no secret that average daily lodging rates have gone up since travel began to recover earlier in the year, and the trend is likely to continue into the busy holiday season. Current demand data shows prices are generally lower during the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the week of Christmas. For popular resort destinations in Mexico or the Caribbean such as Cancun or Punta Cana, for example, those savings could amount to around $70 or more per night.
- Car rental: For travelers in need of a car during their holiday trips, pricing trends reveal that now is a great time to lock it in. Average rates per day for the holiday time periods are currently trending downward, but as pricing can fluctuate there’s no guarantee how long these rates will last. Filter for options that allow “free cancellation” or “pay at pick up” to score even more flexibility when planning ahead.
- Budget-friendly destinations: City destinations like New York, San Francisco and Boston continue to offer up some the best deals around in terms of hotel prices, with savings for the holidays ranging from 10-35 percent compared to 2019. But if a beach escape is preferred, the winter months are a great time to go, with many warm-weather destinations like Miami, Orange County and Myrtle Beach offering better rates compared to the summer months.
Top Destinations for Christmas:
1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Cancun, Mexico
3. Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico
4. Oahu, Hawaii
5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
6. Kansas City, Mo.
7. Salt Lake City
8. Palm Beach area, Fla.
9. Rapid City – Mount Rushmore, S.D.
10. Sarasota area, Fla.
Not all travelers are heading to their normal vacation spots, however. Looking at which destinations are seeing the biggest jumps in terms of search interest for Thanksgiving and Christmas proves some travelers are thinking outside the box. From an ecotourism mecca in Costa Rica to the ski slopes of Colorado, these trending destinations clearly have a lot to entice holiday travelers.
1. Gainsville, Fla.
2. Allentown, Pa.
3. Estes Park, Colo.
4. Knoxville, Tenn.
5. Chatanooga, Tenn.
6. Salt Lake City
7. Cherokee, N.C.
8. Oregon Coast, Ore.
9. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
10. Ocean City, Md.