This is exactly how far in advance you should book your flights

When traveling on a budget, every dollar counts. Unfortunately, the cost of airfare alone can burn a serious hole in your wallet. Don’t let that stop you from taking your dream vacation, though. According to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, there is a “sweet spot” to getting the biggest bang for your buck. Watch out for these signs that you’re paying too much for airfare.

“The most important rule is fairly obvious: don’t wait until the last minute, as that rarely works out,” he said in a statement. “But beyond that, you also want to be careful not to buy too early.”

Still, that’s easier said than done. Finding the most cost-efficient time to book is tough. Luckily, somebody did the math—so you don’t have to. Data crunchers from the online travel agency CheapAir surveyed over 917 million fares to determine the day with the cheapest rates.

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12 tips that can get you through the airport as quickly as possible
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12 tips that can get you through the airport as quickly as possible

Apply for TSA PreCheck status

Signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry can help save you valuable time, as you can keep your shoes, belts, and light jackets on as you go through security. You also don't have to remove your laptop or any liquids from your bag. 

It will help get you through an expedited line over Thanksgiving weekend as well as each time you travel afterward, making it a valuable investment.

Check in ahead of time.

Give yourself as few tasks to do at the airport as possible. Instead of waiting to pick up your boarding pass, check in ahead of time, either online or on your phone.

You can go paperless at most airport and use an electronic pass on your phone to board.

Download your airline's app.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and British Airways are just a few of the airlines that have developed mobile apps to give travelers real-time information on flight delays and gate changes.

That way, if your gate has changed and you're short on time, you’ll know before you even get to the airport.

Wear slippers.

If you're going to have to take your shoes off at security, make them easy ones to remove.

Slippers are a good choice because they'll keep you warm and cozy on your flight without taking too much time to remove at security.

Buy a TSA-approved laptop bag.

Certain laptop bags are specially designed to be approved through TSA security, meaning you won't have to take your laptop out separately when passing through.

Simple cases like this one from Case Logic ($27) are perfectly reasonable. 

If you're bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped.

If you're exchanging gifts over the holidays, ship them ahead of time to avoid having to take them through the airport. Or if you're going to bring them with you, leave them unwrapped, as TSA agents may have to unwrap them.

"Wrapped gifts are allowed, but we recommend waiting until you land to wrap them," it says on the TSA's official blog. "If there's something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may have to open it … It also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this."

Pack shoes foot-to-toe at the bottom of your bag.

Packing your shoes in the bottom of your bag will help to put some weight on the wheels of your luggage and make it easier to remain balanced, especially if you're rushing to your gate. 

Arrive early.

This one seems like common sense, but make sure you leave yourself more time than usual during holiday travels. Brian Ek, a travel expert for Priceline.com, told Fox News that he encourages fliers to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight and three hours for international flights that are leaving early in the morning or late at night.

For normal business-hour flights, he recommends giving yourself another 30 to 45 minutes, just to be on the safe side. 

Keep a bag of essential items ready to go.

Skip the time it would take to transfer your shampoo into a 3.4-ounce bottle and have a bag of toiletries ready to go.

Grab samples of your favorite products, or get travel-size toiletries and store them in one bag so you can simply grab it and go each time you pack.

Have a booking app set up on your phone.

Canceled flights are an unfortunate reality when traveling during the holidays. To help ensure you get the best place to sleep if this does happen, have a booking app set up on your phone so that you can make last-minute hotel reservations or rent a car.

If your flight does get canceled, take advantage of your time and start calling the airline over the phone while you wait in line.

Look for lines toward your left.

According to CNN, looking for lines toward your left side can help you spot the one that's shorter. Studies show that Americans are more likely to turn right than left when entering a building. 

If your flight is delayed, relax at an airport lounge.

Even if you're flying economy, it doesn't mean you can't access airport lounges. Most lounges sell day passes so that anyone can experience last-minute pampering and relaxation. 

You can also get a Priority Pass, which gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world. 

Finally, check your credit card to see whether or not it gives you lounge access. Some, like American Express Platinum, have access to Delta and Centurion lounges. 

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Here’s what they found: While prices tend to stay the same between 320 and 106 days before a trip, they start dropping at the 105-day mark. Read up on these travel secrets to always get the best airfare possible.

That said, you might be tempted to book the moment prices drop. But hold up! You’ll save even more money by booking precisely 70 days before your trip. According to CheapAir, you can save a whopping 48 percent of the ticket’s total cost by using this trick.

After that date, airfares will begin to increase again. And don’t even think about booking any later than 20 days ahead of time, as prices will be soaring.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next dream vacation, and book accordingly. Your wallet will thank you—guaranteed. Plus, here are even more secrets to traveling cheap, according to travel agents.

These are the airports you may want to avoid: 

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6 worst airports in the US
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6 worst airports in the US

#6: Los Angeles International Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored LAX a 702.

The airport is know for its long waits to get through security, immigration, and customs, according to the LA Times. Some travelers have also complained of poor signage, limited seating, unclean restrooms, and crowded terminals.

There are renovations planned for the airport, including a $1.6-billion midfield terminal that will add 12 gates for aircrafts. In February 2016, a revamped Terminal 2 also opened, which now features a mix of 20 new local and chain restaurants, more open space, and luxury retail.

Photo credit: Reuters

#5: Boston Logan Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored Boston Logan Airport a 689.

The airport deals with extreme congestion: there were more than 5.5 million arrivals and departures in 2015, the Boston Globe reported. In the past, TSA lines have also stretched up to three hours. And the Globe notes that it's still not uncommon to have over five flights land within the same hour.

In 2016, the Massachusetts Transportation Authority approved a $45 million redevelopment plan, which includes expanding some terminals, for the airport.

Photo credit: Reuters

#4: Chicago O'Hare Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored O'Hare a 689.

Due largely to weather, O'Hare can be a nightmare for flight delays — a major reason for its low score in the study. Thunderstorms and snow storms were relatively mild for O’Hare in 2016, which reduced flight delays compared to previous years, according to the researchers.

Photo credit: Reuters
#3: Philadelphia International Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored Philadelphia International Airport a 688.

Philly's international airport's infrastructure continues to age, while the number of passengers that use it continues to grow. During 2016's spring break, nearly 6,800 passengers missed flights because of TSA checkpoint delays at Philadelphia International Airport, according to the local NBC station. The airport hired about 200 new workers each week last summer to try to make up for the gap.

Photo credit: Reuters

#2: Newark Liberty International Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored Newark Airport a 669.

In 2016, the airport handled over 430,000 arrivals and departures, though many of them did not come or leave on-time. According to a report by the Department of Transportation, only 74% of flights avoided delays in 2016.

That year, United Airlines spent $120 million to redesign Newark's Terminal C, but the airport still needs many improvements.

Photo credit: Reuters

#1: New York LaGuardia Airport

On a 1,000-point scale, travelers scored Newark Airport a 649.

LaGuardia may be ugly, horribly congested, and not so efficient. (In 2016, 29% of LaGuardia flights had delays.)

But it's about to get a huge upgrade. In March 2016, the Port Authority of New York approved a $4 billion redevelopment plan for the aging airport. The first part of the new airport is expected to open in 2019, with the rest scheduled to debut 18 months after that.

Photo credit: Getty

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