Discover the Best Times to Book a Vacation
Save money on your vacation by knowing the best times to book travel and best days to travel
Many people enjoy traveling because it gives them the opportunity to see the sights in the U.S. and around the world, meet new people, and eat exotic foods. But before you pack your bags and leave on vacation, you'll need to do some planning. First, establish a savings goal so you can set aside funds for your trip. Then look for ways to save on your vacation, like using social couponing sites, staying at an all-inclusive resort and booking your trip during the best time of year to travel affordably. You may even find there are best days of the week to travel. Check out our guide to the best times to book a vacation, then put those savings toward your vacation spending - or a future trip!
The best time to go on vacation
Travel savings often depend on when and where you want to go. If you have a little flexibility around when you are able to take your trip, you may be able to save even more.
- Seasonal vacation. Summer is considered to be high or peak season, while winter is considered to be low or off-season for most destinations. You can often save money by visiting outside of peak dates. For example, if you like to ski, peak is during winter months, but if you hit the slopes for some fall or spring skiing, many resorts offer great deals.
- "Shoulder season." This varies by destination, but shoulder season is generally the months immediately preceding and following peak. Look up the shoulder season for your chosen destination to see if it aligns to your travel plans and if you'll be able to save by booking then. For example, if you want to travel to Paris in the summer, guidebook author Rick Steves suggests you travel in July or August to avoid the busier times (and higher rates) of June and September.
- Holiday vacation. Holiday travel is one of the busiest times of the year. But that doesn't mean you can't find the best days to travel and save. If you travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or at the very least a few days to a week before a major holiday, you could avoid the hustle and bustle and save money on your airfare and hotel.
The best time to book travel when you need airline tickets
Recent studies on airfare from Cheapair.com have shown that the best time to purchase airline tickets for domestic air travel is Tuesday at around midnight, 54 days before your trip. However, if you're not much of a night owl, early mornings and Wednesdays may also offer good fares. Also, the "prime booking window" will stay open from 104 to 29 days before your trip - if you miss day 54. If you book too early or too late, you'll likely see higher fares, but it really depends on your particular trip. Popular destinations can fill up before the "prime booking window" even opens, so compare fares on individual airline sites early and often to find the best deal.
The best day to book your travel internationally will vary based on where you are going, but the general advice is to book earlier than you would book domestic flights. Below are the number of days before a trip that Cheapair found to be best for booking travel abroad:
- Europe: 151 days.
- Asia: 129 days.
- The Caribbean: 101 days.
- Mexico: 89 days.
- Latin America: 80 days.
The best days to travel if you're flying
The best days to travel by plane can change annually. They will also change based on where you're going. If you're flying domestically, the cheapest day of the week to board is Wednesday, according to FareCompare.com. However, Tuesday and Saturday flights can also have good rates. When flying internationally, according to USA Today, the best days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as many people try to fly over the weekend, which raises rates.
Ways to save on hotels, rental cars and transit
While the cheapest time to stay at a hotel again depends on when and where you travel, there are some guidelines you can follow. Book your hotel stay during the off-season, or, when traveling domestically, stay on the outskirts of a city to get a lower rate - especially if there is a good public transit system. For example, a hotel in downtown Chicago costs more than a hotel in the suburbs, but you can take the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) or L-Train in to see major attractions.
If you're trying to save on transportation once you arrive at your destination, consider renting a car for a full week, even if you won't be traveling that long, as the weekly rate could be cheaper than the daily rate. Likewise, there can be benefits for buying a week-long transit pass as opposed to paying as you go, but it will depend on your travel plans.
Open a savings account online from Citizens Bank to prepare for your vacation
Visiting a new city or country allows you to learn about a new culture and grow personally. So it's important to save in order to seize the opportunity to jet off whenever you're bitten by the travel bug. To help you save for your next adventure, compare savings accounts to choose the best one to meet your savings goal on time. If you have any questions about which account is right for you, speak to one of our Citizens Bank representatives. Then, open a savings account online. Whatever account you choose, you can take advantage of our savings programs, like Steady Save®, which sends automatic payments from your checking account to your savings or money market account to help you save for your vacations regularly.