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If you were really set on staying home for the holidays this year, you now have one less excuse. While demand is up, airfares are down this holiday travel season, according to the Orbitz Insider Index. Orbitz data shows that airfares decreased by 9%, while hotel prices stayed relatively flat. Yet 71% of Americans are expected to travel during the holidays, up 6% from last year. Where is everybody headed? Take a look at the charts below to see the most popular holiday destinations 2015 for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

And be sure to visit www.orbitz.com/holidays for a full guide on traveling over the holidays, including a calendar of the cheapest days to book flights.

THANKSGIVING TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS AND TOP DESTINATIONS

*The average price of Thanksgiving airfare to the top 10 travel destinations is $369 (down 9% from 2014) with hotel costs up 5% to an average of $181 in the top 10 destinations compared to 2014.
*The busiest day to travel for Thanksgiving is Nov. 25 and the least busy travel day is Nov. 30.
*Those interested in Thanksgiving travel on the cheap should consider spending the holiday in Texas with airfare down an average of 11% and hotels down 13% year-over-year.

Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations 2015

CHRISTMAS TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS AND TOP DESTINATIONS

*The average price of Christmas airfare is $493 (down 4% from 2014) with hotel costs averaging $201 (up 2% compared to 2014) for average daily hotel prices in the top 10 destinations.

*The busiest day for Christmas travel is Dec. 23 while travelers will find the least crowds at the airports on Dec. 27.

*A ski retreat to Colorado may offer the most savings year-over-year with average airfare to Denver down 7% and hotels down 17% on average when comparing to 2014.
Top 10 Christmas Destinations 2015

NEW YEAR’S TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS AND TOP DESTINATIONS

The Orbitz.com Holiday Survey took the pulse of Americans’ opinions on everything from budgets to holiday stress. Below are additional key findings from this year’s holiday travel survey:

*Eighty-six percent of Americans plan to stay at a hotel over the holidays and 66% plan to take flights.
*71% of survey respondents would rather stay at a hotel than with family with the number one reason being that staying at a hotel is less stressful.
*33% of Americans listed long airport lines as something they are dreading this year, compared to just 13% in 2014.
*Vacation packages are hot this year — 34% of respondents have already booked a holiday vacation package rather than booking travel products separately.
*Sixty-four percent of Americans plan to spend more on holiday travel-related expenses than gifts, perhaps in a nod to quality time over material items.

Haven’t booked your trip yet? Holiday travelers can save an extra 15% off hotels using promotion code FEELGOOD on Orbitz.com. Book by Nov. 29 to save.

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Tagged: Christmas Travel Ideas, Destinations, Family time

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

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We analyzed a big chunk of Orbitz booking data to determine the three best days to book holiday travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The results? Looks like your magic numbers this year are 6, 9 and 10 (of October, that is). So you’d better hurry: This year’s secret week to book is coming up fast.

Orbitz Holiday Calendar 2015
More Orbitz 2015 holiday travel facts

In a 2015 Orbitz Holiday Travel study, we saw that 71 percent of adults 18-64 said they’ll travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or New Year’s. That’s six percent more than last year. Of those who are traveling, about 30 percent said they have already booked a flight or hotel for one or more of these holidays.

Ready to book yours? Get great deals to where you’re going on Orbitz, plus save 15% on hotels with promo code PACKYOURBAGS.

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Tagged: Family time

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

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books for travel

Rule #1 of inflight entertainment: Don’t rely on the inflight movie. While you’re traveling for the holidays—whether it’s to a tropical beach or your in-laws suburban house three states away—we recommend snagging a great read instead. Need a few ideas? Below are our selections, all engrossing enough to help you forget about Aunt Myrtle’s bunions, and entertaining enough to distract from the imminent return to your workaday routine.

Tenth of December

Tenth of December | George Saunders

Saunders’ humor and ability to take on disparate voices transports readers (inside the mind of a preteen ballerina moments before a kidnapper arrives, for example). These stories have an immediacy that places readers uber in-the-moment, and what else could you ask for when you’re stuck another thirty minutes on that tarmac?

Books_NightFilm

Night Film | Marisha Pessl

Maybe your taste runs more adrenaline-heavy? Marisha Pessl’s debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics was about a precocious girl confronted with a murder mystery and Night Film promises an equally gripping follow-up. Centered around an investigation into the strange death of the glamorous Ashley Cordova, this noir-ish tale draws readers deep into her family’s darkness.

Book_Shark

Shark | Will Self

Shark revolves around a WWII maritime incident that resulted in a horrific a shark attack. Decades later, a survivor has flashbacks, and his shrink helps him untangle the memory. (Those flying over southern pacific waters might want to wait till dry land for this one.)

 Books_DontStartMeTalking

Don’t Start Me Talkin’ | Tom Williams

This blues road novel is about Brother Ben, the last remaining True Delta Bluesman, as he plays his final North American tour. It’s both tender and humorous, (and neither requires readers to know much about blues music, nor have them). It touches on race and culture, but mostly hones in on the inherent humor of these last-of-their-kind musicians.

Books_Americanah

Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The last few years have seen Adichie’s TED talk go viral, Beyonce sample her speech “We Should All Be Feminists,” and the publication of an Elle essay about smart women loving fashion. Americanah, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, centers around Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman in the U.S. grappling with community and belonging.

Books_EightyDays

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World  | Matthew Goodman

This is basically the 1880s version of “The Amazing Race,” detailing how two women were sent to circle the globe in 80 days, ala Jules Verne. The visceral travel details (stormy oceans, enormous snowdrifts) just might bring out your inner travel bug, and put you right back on that plane.

Books_Malala

I Am Malala | Malala Yousafza

Shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ education, seventeen year old Malala Yousafza was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest-ever recipient. Read her story of recovery and survival to understand why John Stewart threatened to adopt her.

 

Tagged: Family time, Top 10 Lists

Gretchen Kalwinski

Gretchen Kalwinski

Gretchen is a Chicago-based arts, culture and travel writer, and writing coach. She’s working on her first novel, and tweets sporadically at @gretchel.
Gretchen Kalwinski

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Chicago O'Hare International Airport

Travelers to the Midwest and West Coast of the U.S. will see the largest crowds of any U.S. airport this Thanksgiving, according to new data from Orbitz.  Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago O’HareInternational (ORD) airports took top billings as the busiest destinations, based on the Orbitz Insider Index, which analyzed booking data from the top-50 U.S. airports over the Thanksgiving travel period (Nov. 26 – Dec. 2, 2013).  Additionally, the Index used booking data to find the least busy airport options, based on the same period.

“This year, we’ve seen an increase in traffic at traditionally slower airports, with several new airports joining the Busiest Airports list,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for Orbitz.com. “When traveling for the holidays this year, jet-setters should prepare for crowds and pack accordingly, with options to keep themselves entertained should there be delays. The recent FAA approval on using electronic devices during take-off and landing is another bright spot to look forward to when traveling this holiday season.”

Most/Least Busy Airports

Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) airports have taken the top seeds in Orbitz busiest airports rankings and 2013 marks the fourth straight year that they will see the largest crowds over the holiday.

There were several shake-ups this year, with traditionally less busy airports seeing increases in traveler traffic. Boston’s Logan International airport rose two spots to number 3, while Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport also climbed several spots to take the title as the nation’s 6th busiest airport.

New to the busiest airports list are Seattle’s Seattle-Tacoma International, Newark Liberty International and Minneapolis-St. Paul International airports.

Orbitz Insider Index: Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving 2013

2013 Rank

Airport Name

Location/Market

Airport Code

2012 Rank

1

 Los Angeles International  Los Angeles, CA

LAX

2

2

 Chicago O’Hare International  Chicago, IL

ORD

1

3

 Boston Logan International  Boston, MA

BOS

5

4

 San Francisco International  San Francisco, CA

SFO

3

5

 New York LaGuardia  New York, NY

LGA

4

6

 Ronald Reagan National  Airport  Washington, D.C.

DCA

9

7

 Sea-Tac International  Seattle, WA

SEA

N/A

8

 Denver International  Denver, CO

DEN

8

9

 Newark Liberty International  Newark, NJ

EWR

N/A

10

 Minneapolis-St. Paul International  Minneapolis, MN

MSP

N/A

While many travelers this season will see more passengers in their terminals at major airports, several airports have indicated that their security lines will be shorter.  In 2013, five new airports made the Least Busy list, offering several new options for travelers looking to avoid the crowds.

Orbitz Insider Index: Least Busy Airports for Thanksgiving 2013

2013 Rank

Airport Name

Location/Market

Airport Code

2012 Rank

1

 Syracuse Hancock International  Syracuse, NY

SYR

N/A

2

 Buffalo Niagara International  Buffalo, NY

BUF

1

3

 Bangor International  Bangor, ME

BGR

N/A

4

 Nashville International  Nashville, TN

BNA

3

5

 Eppley Airfield  Omaha, NE

OMA

N/A

6

 Sacramento International  Sacramento, CA

SMF

4

7

 Richmond International  Richmond, VA

RIC

N/A

8

 Cleveland Hopkins International  Cleveland, OH

CLE

7

9

 Port Columbus International  Columbus, OH

CMH

N/A

10

 John Wayne Airport  Orange County, CA

SNA

8

Hot Tips for Holiday Travel

Peak travel periods: As part of the Insider Index, Orbitz also analyzed the busiest travel days.  Similar to years before, traveling on the Wednesday before the holiday will be the most expensive day to travel with airfares on average around $499. For jet-setters on a budget, Orbitz experts suggest traveling on Thanksgiving Day when airfares average $406 – a savings of 19 percent.

Know your alternatives: Flying from smaller airports with low-cost carriers is not always the least expensive option for travelers. For example, a round-trip ticket over Thanksgiving weekend from Chicago to Atlanta cost $XX less from Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) than the smaller Chicago Midway International (MDW). Travelers should always check all airport options. Orbitz customers can use the “Nearby Airports” feature to search all airports within 80 miles of their departure and arrival destination.

Dress for success: Remember, TSA allows children 12 years old and younger to leave their shoes on when going through airport security—a time-saver for traveling parents. Be sure to have your children keep their shoes laced-up when waiting in the security line and save yourself from unnecessary wardrobe changes.

Smartphones are your travel companions: From navigating to the airport, checking flight statuses and even keeping your reservations in order, mobile devices are your best friend when traveling through the holidays.  The Orbitz App now integrates with Orbitz Rewards, and with the new “Zap that Bag Fee” feature, customers can easily take a picture of their checked baggage fee receipt, send it to Orbitz and earn $25 in bonus Orbucks through November 30.

Tagged: Top 10 Lists

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Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Nothing is more closely associated with the Fourth of July than thundering booms and colorful explosions. But there’s more to the Fourth than fireworks. Aside from being a celebration of America’s independence, it’s also the unofficial midpoint of summer and a great time to get away. From sea to shining sea, here are the best places to celebratethe 4th of July with parties, parades and, of course, pyrotechnics.

Louisiana didn’t become a state until 1812, but they’ve done a spectacular job of catching up on the celebration with the annual fireworks display in New Orleans. Go 4th on the River is a full day of concerts and free events culminating in an explosive finale. Two barges are sent into the Mississippi River for dueling fireworks displays set to music from the U.S. Navy Band. There’s prime viewing on both banks of the river and some local riverboats offer night cruises that bring you even closer to the action.

Kaboom! Town near Dallas, Texas is the fireworks celebration endorsed by the professionals: the American Pyrotechnics Association has said that it’s one of the best 4th of July shows in the country. What sets Kaboom! Town apart is the sheer volume of fireworks. The show lasts for more than 30 minutes and uses 1,500 pounds of explosives. There’s also an air show featuring historic warplanes and skydiving demonstrations. Fortunately for the aerial acrobats, the air show takes place before the fireworks display.

No one knows how to throw a birthday party for America like Philadelphia, the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Philly celebrates for an entire week with music, parades, and parties. There is a fireworks show, but the real highlight of the week is the annual 4th of July Jam. Billed as the “largest free concert in America,” this year the festival will feature John Mayer, the Roots and other top talent.

If your musical tastes are a little more old-fashioned, Colonial Williamsburg is the place to be for a very traditionalIndependence Day celebration. The living-history museum puts on a “militia muster” with a salute to the 13 original states and the firing of muskets and cannons. The daylong celebration also features performances of American popular music through the ages. The Williamsburg Lodge will be at the center of the festivities as the host of a sumptuous evening buffet. Guests of the Lodge will be given a fife and drum escort to the Williamsburg Palace Green for an evening performance by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, followed by—you guessed it—fireworks.

If yours is a more peaceful kind of patriotism, the Black Hills of South Dakota are a quiet place to appreciate America’s natural beauty. The Black Hills and the nearby Badlands share six national parks, more than a hundred miles of scenic byways, and some of the most majestic landscapes in the country. This area is also home to Mount Rushmore, the unique monument to Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. A visit to the monument known as “The Shrine of Democracy” is an excellent, explosion-free way to celebrate America’s independence.

Tagged: Uncategorized

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is a writer, traveler and lover of cities currently living in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @shameonseamus.
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Cue the “Run, Run Rudolph.” Credit, Flickr: Elvert Barnes.

By Angie Jaime

Celebrating the holidays is great! Fighting off the crowds at the airport—not so much. So how do you get to the Christmas ham and Hanukkah latkes without going postal? Our expert Facebook fans are dropping some knowledge:

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Tagged: Uncategorized

Angie Jaime

Angie Jaime

Angie Jaime is a writer at Orbitz. She has a habit of stopping at Cinnabon stands in airports across the country.
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If you’ve booked your flights and are planning to travel this Thanksgiving, here’s some information to help you stay in the know and on time when you go.

The Orbitz Insider Index has identified the airports expected to be the busiest this Thanksgiving, based on airline ticket sales for travel between November 22-30. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport has taken the top spot, pushing former number-one Chicago O’Hare down the list. And it looks like more people have booked Thanksgiving flights to Miami and Seattle; this is the first year those cities’ airports are on our busiest list.

Top 10 busiest airports for Thanksgiving 2008
1.Las Vegas, NV — McCarran International Airport (LAS)
2.New York, NY — LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
3.Chicago, IL — Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
4.Los Angeles, CA — Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
5.San Francisco, CA — San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
6.Dallas, TX — Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport(DFW)
7.Newark, NJ — New York Newark International Airport (EWR)
8.Miami, FL — Miami International Airport (MIA)
9.Denver, CO — Denver International Airport (DEN)
10.Seattle, WA — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

As for the best days to travel, here’s our list:

Least busy:

  • Tuesday, November 25
  • Monday, November 24
  • Saturday, November 29

Busiest:

  • Sunday, November 30
  • Wednesday, November 26
  • Sunday, November 23

No matter when you travel, trust OrbitzTLC to keep you up to date with travel news and flight delays. You can sign up for Orbitz TLC Alerts to have information delivered directly to your phone, computer or PDA. And Orbitz Traveler Update
has parking and transportation tips — even up-to-the-minute
information about security wait times — fromfellow travelers to help make your trip easier.

Related Orbitz resources:

Hotel resources:

Tagged: Top 10 Lists

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Holiday flights
It may well be the most wonderful time of the year, but the holiday season can create a few extra challenges for travelers.

Not only are Thanksgiving and Christmas among the busiest travel periods of the year, but wintry conditions can hold up holiday flights and create ripple effects throughout the country.

But some extra planning and preparation may help you cut back on the holiday travel hassles and increase the odds of reaching your destination on schedule.

Before you get to the airport

If possible, pack light and carry your luggage on board. That way you can print your boarding pass in advance, head straight to the security checkpoint, and avoid paying checked baggage fees. And you won’t have to wait at baggage claim.

It’s a good idea to mail your gifts in advance if it’s not too expensive. But if you want to carry them in your luggage, wait to wrap them until you reach your destination, as wrapped items may be opened for inspection.

And just in case you get stuck at an airport, make sure you put everything you’ll need for the next 24 hours in your carry-on — including clothing and medication — as you may not have access to your checked baggage.

The Transportation Security Administration recommends packing your carry-on as neatly as possible so it will be easier to screen, with separate layers for clothes, electronics and toiletries.

Security checkpoint

Although the TSA tries to add more screeners during peak holiday travel times, arrive early and prepare for longer lines.

Also, get yourself, and everybody else, through the security checkpoints a little quicker by remembering the following:

— Liquids, gels or aerosols must be in containers 3 ounces or less and should fit in a quart-size, zip-top bag. Remove the bag from your luggage at the checkpoint so it can be screened separately.

— Remove all metal from your pockets, including coins and cell phones, along with belt buckles.
Take off your shoes and coat.

— Remove large electronics, including laptops and portable DVD players, from your carry-on and place in a separate bin.

Weather

Monitor weather reports and check the OrbitzTLC Traveler Update site for real-time weather, traffic and tips from fellow travelers about airport conditions across the country. It also features the OrbitzTLC Flying Forecast, featuring the Orbitz air-traffic analysts’ provide round-the-clock updates on delayed flights across the country.

If it looks like wintry weather may be an issue, consider departing early or postponing your travel. Airlines often will allow travelers to reschedule their flights without paying a rebooking fee when major snowstorms disrupt travel.

Related Orbitz resources:

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Thanksgiving_dinner
By Allan Burstyn

There may never be a time when it is easy to travel with your family, but traveling during the holiday season can be particularly challenging. But what if, instead of treating the holiday travel process as something that simply must be endured, we could make it part of the overall holiday experience?

When our family has traveled around a holiday, we try to imbue the travel experience with some of the spirit of the holiday. Besides getting the kids excited about the holiday and keeping them occupied duringthe trip, it’s also a chance to teach them something.

Dressing your children in holiday clothes is an easy way to provide a cue to them that the trip you are about take is part of the holiday experience. While older kids might resist, younger children will be excited to wearing something special.

Holiday-themed toys, books and videos are perfect for those occasional holiday-time delays. Grandparents and others will be impressed by your well-read youngsters.

Singing holiday songs on the way to the airport is a great way of getting everyone excited about the trip ahead. While no one wants to hear a 4-year-old sing at the top of his or her lungs in a crowded terminal, breaking into song when your family has some privacy — although potentially corny — can also be fun.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, holiday travel canalso be an opportunity to act in the holiday spirit. When traveling during the holidays there are many opportunities for your family to help one another and others, whether that means carrying luggage for bigger kid or picking up things that people accidentally dropped for smaller ones. By doing good deeds during your holiday travel experience you will help others feel the holiday spirit as well. We were once put on a bus after a snowstorm shut down our connecting airport. We and our 2-year-old were cranky after a long day of travel, and if it weren’t for the kindness of some of our fellow passengers who helped keep our child occupied, that bus trip might have turned into a disaster.

While these suggestions may seem like small measures, given how stressful and exasperating holiday travel can be even seemingly small things can go a long way toward making the difficult moments easier to handle.

Related Orbitz resources:

With three boys under five years of age. when he’s not at Orbitz
Allan can be found changing diapers or breaking up fights. Allan
divides his vacation time between local road trips, scuba diving and
skiing.

Tagged: Family time

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Denverairport
By Joe Brancatelli

I’m almost old enough to remember when holiday travel was a more intimate affair, a matter of going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

Of course, nobody goes over the river and through the woods anymore. Now we all drive to airports on traffic-jammed roads and fly around the world on packed planes to see our friends and families for the holidays. And the rush is on right now, when business travelers cede control of the air-travel system to those jolly holiday travelers who often can’t tell an airport from an air balloon.

So how will we all survive and co-exist until the end of the first week of January, the traditional end of the end-of-the-year holiday rush? Here are ten of my best suggestions. The more you fly, the more you know this stuff. But it never hurts to read over this list and check it twice.

Fly early in the day

Transportation Department statistics show that flights scheduled to depart and arrive early in the day have the best on-time performance. But relative timeliness isn’t the only reason to fly early: If your selected flight is canceled, you’ll have a better chance of being rebooked on a flight later in the day. Conversely, if you book an evening flight, you’re not only subject to longer delays, you also may not get on another flight that day if your original one cancels.

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By Jim Cohn

Where’s everybody
headed for the holidays? Mexico, Caribbean, Chicago and New York flights top our list this year.

Here’s Orbitz’ top 10 list of destinations for
Christmas 2007, based on air ticket sales on Orbitz.com. The list covers flights departing between December 21 and January 2, based on net bookings as of
November 2, 2007.

Domestic

1. Chicago
2. New York City
3. Los Angeles
4. Denver
5. Washington, D.C.
6. San Francisco
7. Atlanta
8. Newark, New Jersey
9. Orlando
10. Boston   

International

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
2. Cancun
3. Mexico City
4. London
5. Puerto Vallarta
6. San Jose Cabo, Mexico
7. Paris
8. San Jose, Costa Rica
9. Frankfurt, Germany
10. Guadalajara

Jim Cohn is an Orbitz
spokesman specializing in business and leisure travel.

Tagged: Caribbean, Mexico, New York