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Best days to book your holiday travel

August 17, 2018

I know where Ill be at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Ive got the airline tickets to get me there.

I bought too early, if you believe the reports from two companies that tracked airfare in 2017 to predict what well see this year.

Im OK with my mistake (though happy to save you from the same). With a family of three and specific dates, I felt confident booking when the planes were still relatively empty. Three seats in a row? Yes, we got that.

Would I have waited, though, had I seen these reports? Yes, just a bit.

Skyscanner, a travel aggregator and metasearch website, analyzed its 2017 bookings to determine likely price trends for 2018. It found that for Thanksgiving, September will be a good time to buy. The week of Aug. 27 will offer the best savings (mark your calendars). Not surprisingly, those who book in November will pay the highest prices. Christmas travel is a different story. December could offer bargains.

The best time to buy a Christmas flight is during the week of December 19-25, or 0 weeks out, the website says. The wait could save you as much as 15 percent, at a time when flying is at a premium. If last minute isnt your thing, you can still book between 3-6 weeks in advance for an estimated savings of 10 percent on the average ticket price, it says, adding that 21, 20 and 16 weeks in advance typically cost up to 13 percent more.

Ouch. Thats me at week 21.

I felt a little vindicated after I saw the holiday guide by online travel agency CheapAir.

Dont wait long, it warns. CheapAirs data analysis found that for Thanksgiving, August and September are the times to buy. Christmas and New Years flights are also at their lowest in September.

Botton line: Dont let conflicting sources slow you down. I suggest you start poking around and buy when the price feels right which will likely be soon.

Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.

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