Know Before You Go

Tips on the best time to book travel
It can be a challenge to know when exactly you should book your next trip to avoid increased airfare or sky-high prices for accommodations. Here are five key factors to consider before booking a flight or hotel to help ensure that you get the best rate and availability.
 
Tip 1: Book during shoulder season
The time of year between the summer and winter holiday travel is often a great time to book travel and is referred to as shoulder season. Fares and hotel rates are typically lower because travel numbers tend to be lower.
 
Tip 2: Avoid holiday and peak travel dates

Airlines can add hundreds of dollars to fares during peak travel times, such as holiday weekends, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and spring break.
 
To get the best deals, try to be as flexible as possible with your dates, and during the holidays, consider flying on the actual holiday to get a better rate. If you book your flight for mid-week, you can often get a lower rate. Friday to Monday rates may be more expensive than a Tuesday to Thursday trip.
 
Tip 3: Book in advance
Booking a flight as far in advance as you can helps guarantee you the best fare, especially if you are planning to travel for the Thanksgiving or winter holidays. Some destinations, like Europe, have prices that continue to increase for peak seasons. For these, you should book at least six months in advance.
 
Tip 4: Watch for last-minute deals
Depending on your comfort level with waiting until the last minute, and the flexibility of your travel dates, there are opportunities for last-minute savings. Airlines may cut prices if they haven’t sold all their seats. Sign up for email alerts and newsletters to be informed of last-minute deals. Booking this way is best reserved for spontaneous vacations.
 
Tip 5: Shop around

To find the best travel deals, don’t buy the first airfare you encounter (unless it’s an amazing deal, of course). Consider the following before you buy:
 
  • Enlist the help of a travel agent to help get you the best deal possible on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more — and to do the planning for you.
  • Visit individual airline websites.
  • Consider purchasing two one-way tickets rather than one round-trip ticket, as it may be cheaper.
  • If you are flexible with your dates, play with different dates and see which yields the lowest rates.