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Summer is undoubtedly the most popular season to travel. School is on break, and the weather is nice. On average, nearly 50 percent of Americans take at least one summer trip, and roughly one third of those 50 percent plan to budget more than $1,000 for summer travel. So whether you intend to relax on the beaches of Miami or explore the wild in Yellowstone National Park, a large influx of travelers booking flights, accommodations, rental vehicles, tickets for attractions and more is going to cause prices to increase. By booking your summer vacation well in advance, you can find better deals and stay within your desired budget.
Based on research and studies by numerous air travel booking websites, the best time to book a ticket is between 28 and 105 days before departure. Hence, booking an early June vacation in late May will likely cost you a lot, while booking one in April could give you more spending money for the trip. This guideline is very general, but it’s important to stay within this range. The frugal traveler should be aware that the average price difference — factoring in both domestic and international trips — for the same plane ticket between the cheapest day and most expensive day to buy is $236. That’s no small amount.
A lot also depends on your destination. For trips to the South Pacific, the best day to book is 70 days prior to departure; for Mexico, it’s 89 days. It’s also always advised to start researching prices for your particular airfare really early — up to four months before your intended date of departure — and signing up for price alerts with well-known travel websites.
With the rising use of frequent flyer miles, hotel points programs and rewards credit cards, more travelers are able to book award airline tickets and hotel stays. Searching early for award tickets gives you more opportunity to get the flight and hotel you want. Some experts advise searching for award tickets and hotel stays one to three months before departure, but it doesn’t hurt to look even earlier.
Delta Airlines, for instance, allows award booking for up to 331 days before departure. Air Canada allows members to book 356 days prior to travel. Check your frequent flyer and hotel points programs for the best way to use the award ticket. If you start looking today rather than tomorrow, chances are you’ll be able to maximize those points and save yourself some money.
This is especially true if you are booking to a popular destination. For example, New York City gets roughly 55 million visitors each year, with about 17 million choosing to go in the summer. If you are booking your trip less than a month in advance, that makes it difficult for the frugal traveler to find good deals on a flight, hotel, rental car and attractions that require a ticket. It can even be difficult to find availability during certain days. By booking your summer vacation today, you can find the right deals and get the most bang for your buck.