Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday (yes, that’s really a thing now). We’re fast-approaching a time where the entire period between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be one giant holiday red-tag sale. Thankfully (get it?), for now at least, we can look to the long weekend just after Turkey Day for the best deals of the year. Here’s how to navigate the bargain bonanza and actually save some serious coin on 2017 Black Friday travel deals.
It’s worth noting that Black Friday was once the single best day of the year for deals, travel and otherwise. Now, however, Cyber Monday (the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving) has usurped Black Friday as the best day of the year to shop for travel. Many of the best travel deals for 2017 will be found on Cyber Monday. Deeply discounted airfare and hotel deals disappear quickly, however, and more than one-tenth of all deals are for last-minute travel. So, if you find a deal, lock it down immediately and start packing.
Hotel deals make up approximately one-third of all travel savings for the Black Friday season. Given that hotel stays are often the largest expense for vacationers, this is great news for budget travelers.
In most cases, Black Friday season deals are a flat-rate dollar amount or percentage off standard rates. This is especially true of travel metasearch websites like Hotels.com and Expedia. However, you can expect to find great deals directly through the official sites of many hotel chains as well. The focus tends to be on upscale properties (3.5-star and above) at the likes of Hyatt, Starwood, etc. The best hotel deals are at least 30 percent off, with some as high as 60 percent.
Pro tip: Just like at any other time of year, be aware of the fine print. Hotels — and resorts in particular — are skilled at hiding pricey extras like daily resort fees, paid Wi-Fi, mandatory valet parking, and surcharges for “all-inclusive” activities. These can quickly add up to 50 percent or more of the total base rate of your stay.
After hotels, airfare is the second most discounted travel niche on Black Friday. Almost every air carrier offers deeply discounted flights. In 2016, JetBlue, Spirit, and Southwest all offered roundtrip domestic airfare for less than $100 total. In some cases, one-way domestic flights were available for just $20!
International flights are slightly more expensive, of course. Expect $100 roundtrip fares from the U.S. to South America and Mexico. A $200 ticket will likely get you to Europe and back. Roundtrip air travel to Asia could be less than $500. The best deals are likely to be found on low-cost carriers like WOW Air. However, other big names like Norwegian and Emirates have also historically offered deep discounts.
On Friday, Skyscanner will launch its all-in-one Black Friday flight deals page for 2017. It’s the most comprehensive list detailing the best air travel deals from every major domestic and international airline.
Pro tip: Keep an eye on the extras when booking your flights too. The grand total for your airfare can rise considerably when taking into account extra baggage fees, choosing your own seat, etc. This is especially true for the “discounted” fares advertised by ultra-low-cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit.
Rental car companies stubbornly refuse to get in on the Black Friday season. In 2016, as in previous years, the number of car rental deals we found after Thanksgiving could be counted on one hand. The bottom line: Don’t expect any special deals for 2017 either. As always, however, it’s worth looking at the car rental company’s official website or bundling your car rental into a vacation package through your airline.
Pro tip: Calling a rental car office directly and bargaining with them over the phone can be a surprisingly effective technique for saving big any time of year.
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