Memorial Day Weekend Vacation Planning Tips

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Now that Winter is almost over, the next big holiday weekend for the majority of us is Memorial Day. Holiday travel is expensive, so what is the best way to plan a vacation for it a little over 2 months away?

Memorial Day Fireworks. Photo: _e.t, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Memorial Day Fireworks. Photo: _e.t, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

The 4 Day Weekend Is Probably Not an Option

Taking one day off for a 4 day weekend is always nice. However, it going to be difficult to find a good deal for travel on May 24th – 27th when most people are traveling. Let’s use a very popular route, New York and Miami, as an example.

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Using the month search on Matrix by ITA Software, we can see that if we depart on May 23rd, it start at $283 whereas if we took extra vacation days, we can go for as low as $218. We are over 60 days out and fares are still relatively reasonable for Memorial Day travel. However, as we get closer, this will become significantly more expensive.

Being flexible is key to lower holiday fares.

Use Miles

If you have miles, it is always good to check whether or not to redeem miles for your trip versus buying a ticket. Once again, being flexible is the key to finding availability.

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American has award tickets at the lowest mileage requirement on May 22nd – 29th.  We would never recommend that anyone redeem 25,000 miles versus buying at $218 since you are getting less than a penny a mile. However, it is always good to check when ticket prices are expensive. Also, when there is coach availability for 25,000 miles, always check to see if there is Business Class availability.

Mix and Match

99.5% of domestic tickets are priced as one ways. Check one way pricing using miles and one way using cash.

When to Buy

Right now it is the best time to start researching and actively track fares for Memorial Day travel. Over the last few weeks, we’ve posted many fares with explicit valid travel periods until June. Recently the travel periods were mostly until March or April for any deals that were not valid 330 days out. If you see a fare that is good, don’t over-think it. Take action! American allows for 24 hour risk free holds, while Delta, United, US Airways, JetBlue, Virgin America, Southwest allow for risk free 24 hour cancellation. Buy first, then use the risk free hold or cancellation period to firm up your travel plans.

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