Holiday travel costs already tracking as much as last year

Holiday travel costs already tracking as much as last year

But that doesn't mean you should always book anything just yet.

Travel costs for Christmas holidays are already tracking as high as last year, according to recent data from travel app Hopper. Low prices are already 20% higher than what pre-pandemic holiday fares were at this time of year, according to Hayley Berg, Hopper's lead economist.

Mid-summer may feel early to start thinking about holiday travel, but Christmas in July is the perfect time to start planning your trips home or a vacation over the holidays, Berg said.

Travelers should start tracking prices, but Berg said they shouldn't book anything yet given that prices will be extremely volatile, rising and falling multiple times a day over the next two to three months.

Hopper data shows that fares for holidays will remain high throughout the summer and drop slowly into September and October, which is known as shoulder season. The best time to book a flight is during September and early October because prices are typically $100 cheaper than mid-summer prices, Hopper said.

Clint Henderson, managing editor of the travel website The Points Guy, agrees that holiday shoppers need to start doing their research now. He added that travelers looking for a domestic trip over the holidays should be prepared to book if you see a deal. Travelers looking for international holidays should start to book or at least start tracking prices now through September, he said.

The demand for the holidays will continue to be absolutely bonkers, Henderson said.

Airlines don't have the pricing power they did a year ago, Henderson said.

In addition, airlines have added capacity, which means more seats for sale, leading to slightly lower prices. At the same time, Henderson said, not to expect deep discounts for holiday fares as peak holiday dates are always higher than normal.