The Best And Worst Days Of The Year For Holiday Travel

The holiday season is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of year," but we all know that when it comes to traveling it can also be one of the most stressful and expensive times of year, too. Popular travel days lead to higher airfares, longer security lines, busier street traffic, and all around less merriment for those unprepared to deal with the hoards of travelers making their way through the particularly crowded airports. However, if you have a flexible schedule, it might delight you to know that there are a handful of days during the holiday season where traveling can be a breeze.

If you don't mind making your travel arrangements for Christmas Day, for instance, you won't have to put up with too many other travelers. Airlines sometimes give perks like upgraded seats or complimentary meals to those traveling on these days because, well, it's Christmas! If you don't want to travel on Christmas Day but have the ability to fly out a week before, CheapAir's flight report shows that December 18 is a good day for holiday travel as well. It's during crunch time that you can expect airports to turn into a circus. That includes days just before Christmas Eve as well as just before or after New Year's. 

Best Days:

When booking flights for the holiday season it quickly becomes apparent which days will be the craziest for travelling, considering popular days tend to be on the more expensive side. That said, the "best days" are less popular for a reason. On these days airports should be somewhat calmer and flight tickets are usually cheaper because they often fall on holidays.

Christmas Eve: Monday, December 24

First up on the list of best days has to be December 24. According to CheapAir, Christmas Eve is a good time to fly for the holidays this year and can save "travelers an average of $76" as opposed to traveling on a more popular day, like the Saturday before. However, you do risk the possibility of missing Christmas if your flight gets canceled or delayed for any reason.

Christmas Day: Tuesday, December 25

Christmas is a good day for traveling if you don't want to deal with large crowds and are looking to save money on airfare. If you don't mind arriving to your destination on Christmas Day itself, you won't have to deal with much traffic nor the long security lines at the airport.

Before New Year's Eve: Friday, December 28

Between Christmas and New Year's Eve is a sweet spot for traveling, which happens to fall on December 28 this year. If you plan to spend the two holidays in different places, the 28th is just far enough past Christmas that you won't have to deal with the back-to-work flight rush, and early enough that people haven't quite left for their New Year's plans either.

New Year's Eve: Monday, December 31

Just as with Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve is also a good day to travel. According to the CheapAir holiday report, "NYE is the most economical day to fly" since travelers are typically flying before the holiday and not the day itself. However, if you don't mind partying as soon as your flight lands, you can avoid the holiday airport madness by traveling on NYE.

Worst Days:

The worst travel days are the ones that tend to be most desired by travelers because of convenience and timing. Beyond the high cost of flying on these popular travel days, you'll also run the risk of having a stressful experience with the potential to miss your flight if you get stuck in unusually busy traffic or excessively long security lines.

Week Before Christmas: Friday, December 21

People looking to make the most of their Christmas vacation will be flying out the weekend leading up to the holiday. With people leaving work early or heading to the airport as soon as they're done on Friday, traffic will be brutal, an indicator of what likely lies ahead at the airport. If you're leaving on this day you'll want to head out for the airport with ample time.

Weekend Before Christmas: Saturday, December 22

Much like Friday, December 22, Saturday is equally hectic for holiday travel for very similar reasons. Travelers are looking to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones during the holidays, and what better way than over the weekend when you don't have to take off any additional days from work? As mentioned with Friday travel, you'll want to get to the airport with more time than usual just to be on the safe side.

Day After Christmas: Wednesday, December 26

With Christmas taking place toward the beginning of the week this year, you can safely assume airports will be jam-packed on December 26 with people trying to make it back in time for the rest of the work week. Since the day after Christmas is so popular among travelers, you should also be prepared to encounter some of the highest flight fares of the season.

Day After the New Year: Wednesday, January 2

If you can wait a few extra days to fly home after the New Year, you should. January 2 is the most expensive day to fly, according to CheapAir's report — meaning almost everyone else will be trying to get home, which will likely result in you having to deal with long delays.