Hint: It's not Black Friday.
Credit: James Ransom

Because it's Christmas in July, right? That means we can start looking forward to a bounty of scrumptious food, making new family memories, gifts upon gifts... and, unfortunately, stressing about how to get to your destination.

If you're flying home for the holidays, budgeting airfare can be stressful (on top of all the other expenses that pile up during this time of year). And let's not forget that unspoken truth that traveling companies likely hike up their prices during the busiest times of year-not only for profit, but to accommodate the larger traffic passing through their terminals and to stay competitive among each other.

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Thankfully, CheapAir.com has released its 2018 Holiday Flights Report. In it, they track 11,000 itineraries in order to show you, in real-time, the average fare you can expect to pay for flights this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Beyond daily airfare rates, the report also breaks down the expected monthly flight price fluctuations for each holiday and when to book the best deals.

Their findings? For Thanksgiving, flights booked in August and September can yield some of the biggest savings with fare averages of $406 in August and $393 in September. Compare those numbers to November when the average reaches upwards of $500 per ticket. This could save you about $40 compared to a flight booked the day before Thanksgiving. Can't swing those extra holiday hours? Flying early morning on the day of is your next best budget bet. On your return home, however, avoid flying on the Sunday after Thanksgiving as this will rack you up the highest airfare. If you can wait one more day, you may save up to $100. Wait two more days? You could save $209.

For December holidays, you may want to book in September when flights average $411 per ticket. This is an interesting up-down price point from $450 in August, $416 in October, $465 in November, and inevitably $529 in December. You'll save the most with a flight that leaves December 18 and returns on December 28. Otherwise, similar to Thanksgiving, flying on Christmas Eve may be your next best money-saving option. Doing so could pocket you an extra $76 versus ticket prices for the Saturday before Christmas, the more popular choice for holiday travelers.

And once the festivities are all over, try to avoid flying home on January 2, if possible, as this is the most expensive day to fly and will save you $60 on average per ticket. After all, who couldn't use another day of vacation?

Getting ready for the holidays? Make a wrap-and-ship station for your gifts:


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