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Is Travel Tuesday the New Cyber Monday?

In recent years, travel providers have attempted to ride the consumerist tailwinds of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a shopping day all their own: Travel Tuesday. Observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (also the charitable day of Giving Tuesday, for what it’s worth), Travel Tuesday aims to sling travel deals with the same sort of once-a-year urgency as its more established holiday-shopping counterparts. But, is it actually worth participating?

First, one quick note: This day is not to be confused with the year-round hashtag #TravelTuesday, a longtime social media mainstay more focused on sharing photos, stories, and other travel information (and sometimes deals) online. The Travel Tuesday we’re discussing here is strictly about the post-Thanksgiving day for deals.

Travel Tuesday only arrived on the scene around 2017, but since then airlines and major travel providers like Orbitz, Travelocity, and CheapTickets have joined in. Those are established ticket sites, but are there actually good deals compared to the rest of the year, or is it just another marketing pitch?

The Psychology of Travel Tuesday and Other Shopping Holidays

Shopping holidays like Travel Tuesday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day exist for one simple purpose: To persuade people to spend money they would not otherwise spend. That’s not to say there aren’t good deals—there usually are. But the goal is to hook you with a good deal for something you already want in the hopes you’ll buy a few things you didn’t want, too.

“The key to sales is that people think they’re getting something,” Robert Schindler, a professor of marketing at the Rutgers School of Business Camden, told Vox this summer when Prime Day frenzy was in full swing. “And so it’s in the interest of the [seller] to reinforce that idea that this is a gift to customers.”

The added urgency of a finite purchasing window compounds the issue because it limits our ability to comparison shop. If you weren’t thinking of buying something but suddenly you’re staring at it for a pretty good price, it’s hard to know if the deal is truly too good to pass up. FOMO (fear of missing out) takes over, and suddenly you’ve bought something you don’t need and didn’t budget for.

Of course, there’s a difference between buying consumer goods and booking travel. It’s much easier to impulse-buy a rice cooker than a trip to Paris; the latter of which requires multiple purchases (hotel, airfare, etc.) and at least some logistical planning. But in either case, the psychology is the same: You may not really have the budget for a trip to Paris, but you’ve always wanted to go! And look how cheap the airfare is! And … **click.** Bon voyage.

Two Tips for Getting the Most Out of Travel Tuesday

Having said all that, there are deals out there for travelers with the patience to find them. So how can you take advantage? Here are two tips for getting the most out of Travel Tuesday.

First of all, focus. If you are planning a trip, focus on that trip and that trip only, ignoring the rush of the deal. If there are no deals for trips you’ve planned or budgeted, move along. And don’t be surprised if that’s the case, either: According to Skyscanner, Travel Tuesday is not a savings slam dunk. In its guide to Travel Tuesday deals for 2019, Skyscanner says its data shows that “Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday tend to offer cheaper flight prices than Black Friday, and for domestic flights, booking on Travel Tuesday was 2.4% more expensive than Cyber Monday, but saved 11% compared to Black Friday.” Keep in mind that Tuesdays are generally a cheaper day to book airfare in general, as well.

For international travel, “Travel Tuesday compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday was actually the most expensive time to book a flight by a factor of 9.3%. Cyber Monday was once again the cheapest, followed by Black Friday.”

This leads us the second tip: Prepare. If you have a trip you want to take, or even a list of destinations and time periods you would consider, start tracking prices ahead of time. This allows you to develop a baseline for a good deal so you’ll know one when you see one. As SmarterTravel readers no doubt know, this is good practice any time you’re traveling, but especially when navigating the hype and noise of Travel Tuesday.

Readers: Have you shopped on Travel Tuesday before? Were you able to grab a good deal? Comment below.

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