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When to Book Flights and Hotels for the Biggest Savings in 2019


By Talia Avakian, Travel + Leisure

Timing can make a difference when it comes to snagging the best deals on airfare and hotels.

To help travelers get the most savings on 2019 getaways, Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation have published their 2019 Travel Pricing Outlook, providing information on when to book flights and hotels for the best deals based on round-trip flight data and daily hotel rates between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sep. 30, 2018.

According to the report, booking three weeks in advance from most parts of the world (regardless of the final destination) is where travelers will find the “sweet spot” for deals. Flights departing on Thursdays or Fridays tend to offer the lowest rates (with up to 10 percent in savings), while flights departing on Sundays were found to be the most expensive.

The cheapest time to book flights is weekends, according to the report, with Sunday offering savings as big as 36 percent (except in New Zealand, where the report found Tuesdays were the cheapest day to book). The most expensive tickets they found were those booked on Thursdays and Fridays.

Travelers will want to keep in mind that results on the best times to book can vary based on differing reports. For example, while a recent report from Skycanner found that booking two to three weeks in advance is best for domestic flights, it also indicated that U.S. travelers should be booking five to six months in advance for international trips.

Skyscanner also found that Tuesdays are the overall cheapest day to book domestic flights, while Wednesdays are the cheapest day to book international flights.

Meanwhile, Kayak’s 2019 Travel Hacker Guide has varying timeframes when it comes to how far in advance to book, based on where travelers are headed from the U.S.

Kayak’s report found that the best flight deals from the U.S. to North America, South America, and the Caribbean are available when booking one month in advance, and at five months in advance for trips to Africa. For trips from the U.S. to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Kayak recommends booking six months in advance.

Expedia and the ARC also found travelers can save up to 25 percent on flights when adding a Saturday night stay to a mid-week trip. Savings can jump to close to half on return fares when that extra Saturday night stay is added to destinations that fall on popular routes for business travel, like from London to New York City.

Finally, the report cited Friday as the cheapest day to book hotels and Sunday as the most expensive day to book. Kayak's Global Hotel Study, published in summer of 2018, also notes that hotel prices for domestic and international destinations peak on Monday through Wednesday, with bookings on Fridays and Saturdays typically offering the best rates.

This information can be a good starting point for finding deals, though we also recommend using tools like Google Flights to see the cheapest times to travel in calendar form and setting up flight alerts through services like Hopper to never miss a deal, no matter when a trip is.

Skyscanner’s Everywhere Search is also handy to see deals when you don't have a specific destination in mind, and simply calling a hotel and using the right lingo to ask about lowest rates on rooms can bring in unexpected discounts.
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