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And when to book for the best deals. 

Talia Avakian
October 03, 2018

Kayak released its 2018 Holiday Travel Hacker on Wednesday, highlighting this year's popular destinations.

From the most popular destinations for ringing in the New Year, to trending ski destinations, to the most affordable places in North America for spending the holidays, the report offers a guide for when to find the best holiday travel deals.

For Thanksgiving, Kayak generally suggests booking flights eight weeks in advance based on 2017 data. For Christmas, it's four weeks in advance for domestic flights, and five weeks for international flights.

Booking eight weeks in advance also seemed ideal for domestic New Year’s travel, however the best median airfare for international New Year's trips was seen just two weeks beforehand. As always, when the best fare for your vacation will be available will vary depending on the destination and desired travel dates. To save, set up alerts and use fare calendar tools to see if adjusting your schedule a little can help you save.

The Bahamas saw the biggest increase in interest for New Year’s Eve, followed by several other Caribbean islands along with a few European destinations. (The list is based on the greatest year-over-year search increases for travel between December 25 and January 2.)

Top Trending New Year’s Eve Destinations

  1. The Bahamas (111% increase in searches)
  2. Florence, Italy (73%)
  3. Palm Springs, California (47%)
  4. Cartagena, Colombia (45%)
  5. Jamaica (30%)
  6. U.S. Virgin Islands (25%)
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana (24%)
  8. Aruba (23%)
  9. Zurich, Switzerland (22%)
  10. Paris, France (20%)

Kayak also found the top 10 budget-friendly destinations for the holidays, based having the lowest median airfare rates for travel between November 16 and January 2. Toronto topped the list, followed by Boston and Orlando.

Top 10 Wallet-friendly Destinations in North America for the Holidays

  1. Toronto, Canada
  2. Boston, Massachusetts
  3. Orlando, Florida
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
  5. New York, New York
  6. Atlanta, Georgia
  7. Charleston, South Carolina
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Chicago, Illinois
  10. Nashville, Tennessee

Several ski destinations in Canada, including Banff and Quebec City, have seen the highest year-over-year increase in searches for travel from November 16 to January 2.

Top Trending Ski Destinations

  1. Banff, Canada (29% increase in searches)
  2. Quebec City, Canada (28%)
  3. Taos, New Mexico (27%)
  4. Big Sky, Montana (26%)
  5. Stowe, Vermont (21%)
  6. Jay, Vermont (17%)
  7. Mont-Tremblant, Canada (11%)
  8. Mammoth Lakes, California (4%)
  9. North Conway, New Hampshire (3%)
  10. Breckenridge, Colorado (3%)

Kayak's Holiday Travel Hacker additionally offers info in each category on median airfare and hotel rates, real-time flight deals, and average temperature and precipitation data for each destination.

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