It\u2019s the most wonderful time of the year\u2014and by that, I mean the lazy, late days of summer. New insights from Google also reveal that right now\u2014late August\u2014might also be the best time to start thinking about your holiday travels if you want to get the best flight or hotel deal. In fact, flight searches for Thanksgiving will spike by 76 percent in September. By October, they\u2019ll increase by a further 95 percent. Book now, and you can pay half as much as one of those procrastinators. \u201cResearch suggests that consumers are more stressed about what they\u2019re paying for flights and hotels than just about any other consumer purchase that they make,\u201d Richard Holden, vice president of Google Travel, told Bloomberg. Buyer\u2019s remorse, he says, is far more common when you\u2019re shopping for an airfare than, say, a flatscreen TV. \u201cPeople worry that they\u2019ll miss out on a future price drop, so we\u2019ve decided to make our price insights richer\u2014telling consumers whether what they\u2019re paying is a low price, a high one, or a fair one.\u201d The result isn\u2019t just this handy tool, which uses last year\u2019s prices to predict the rise and fall of airfares across the 25 most popular U.S. routes for Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and New Year\u2019s. It\u2019s a deluge of new features that will inspire confidence in your future travel purchases, no matter where or when you\u2019re going. Hotel Price Insights Power users of Google Flights will know that price insights already existed when you looked up tickets. Flights from New York to Paris, for instance, show red and green numbers under each day of the month to contextualize average prices based on the calendar\u2014explaining whether they were above or below the mean. Now, for the first time, there\u2019s a comparable tool for hotel prices. Type \u201cNew York City hotels\u201d into your Google app, and you\u2019ll trigger the engine. (It works for any city in the world, big or small\u2014from Tokyo to Kanazawa.) Then select your dates and your favorite property, and a new feature will pop up. Look for the \u201ccompare market prices\u201d button and you\u2019ll be able to see whether current prices are fluctuating and whether they\u2019re low, typical, or high\u2014all based on prices for similarly rated hotels in the same vicinity. \u201cIt\u2019s hard to know whether $300 is a good price for a hotel on a particular night\u2014this gives you a sense based on star ratings, and later we\u2019ll take even more data into account. It\u2019s all about comprehensiveness and transparency,\u201d said Holden. Picking a Destination That\u2019s on Sale Ever decided that you want to go to London only to find that, because of a big convention, every hotel is booked and flight prices have skyrocketed? An upgrade to Google\u2019s Explore feature will help prevent that. To find it, pull up Google flights on web or mobile, then click \u201cExplore Destinations.\u201d It lets you input basic parameters for your next vacation\u2014your home city, how long you want to be away, and what time of year you\u2019d like to travel\u2014before populating a world map with estimated flight prices. Want to head somewhere for Christmas, for instance? Leaving from New York, you\u2019ll find great deals in cities from Barcelona to Amsterdam to Zurich\u2014where today it showed that flights are roughly $175 cheaper than normal. Green numbers mean you\u2019re getting a relative bargain: 30 percent below the average price or more. Plus, a list of destinations on the left-hand side contextualizes how much you\u2019re saving in each place. \u201cThree out of five users tell us they\u2019re willing to shift their dates or destinations, so this will help them figure out where to get great value when they\u2019re feeling flexible,\u201d said Holden. Thinking Beyond the Holidays Google\u2019s holiday flight tool represents a gradual expansion toward more personalized, more transparent travel bookings. \u201cThis isn\u2019t a brand-new path for us, we\u2019re just making a greater investment in it now\u2014we\u2019ve been seeing yields from consumers who say they find this useful.\u201d As such, it\u2019s still a work in progress. Holiday flight predictions are currently based only on 2017 numbers, but looking at the last five years, for example, would be more statistically significant. Holden says the company will add more data to the flight and hotel tools to make the \u201cgreat value\u201d predictions better over time. And as consumer behavior provides a clearer picture of how the tool is being used, more destinations will be added. \u201cOver time we also want to provide more holistic planning support for the consumer,\u201d said Holden, hinting toward improved destination insights that consider your existing flight and hotel purchases to serve up recommendations for what to do on the ground. If only he could do the same for your holiday gift list.