High costs are keeping many Americans from summer vacation.
A recent Bankrate survey found that millions of Americans aren’t planning on using their vacation days because they can’t afford a trip. Choosing the right day to travel, however, can lighten the financial burden of summer travel substantially.
If you plan to pay for your trip with points and miles, you may find better award availability if you skip over summer holiday weekends and the busiest travel days. And even if you plan to pay in cash, choosing travel days wisely can help you reduce costs.
But which days will cost travelers the most this summer?
A recent report from Hipmunk notes that the Friday before each of the summer holidays (Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day weekend) is the most expensive day to fly by $100 or more. Also, departing on any Thursday during summer break is more expensive than departing on the least expensive day of the week, which is Tuesday. Flying on Tuesday will save you 7 percent vs. Thursday, the most expensive departure day, Hipmunk says.
Historically, the most expensive day to fly during the entire summer is the Monday during the third week of July, which falls on July 15 this year.
Hopper’s Consumer Airfare Index for May 2019 sheds even more light on this summer’s priciest travel dates. First, they predict that in May consumers would see a 6.8 percent increase in round-trip flight prices vs. April within the U.S. due to seasonal demand. On the flip side, they note that prices for airfare are still lower than they were two years ago.
More good news: While Hopper researchers also report that airfare prices should continue to rise in June, then start to fall from July through October.
Also be aware that where you travel can make a big difference in what you’ll pay — even if you wind up traveling during a very busy time. Hopper came up with a list of the top 10 domestic and international destinations to watch this summer for the best airfare deals. Consider these spots if you have some flexibility in your travel plans.
|City||Current round-trip price, on average|
|Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia||$591|
|Phuket Town, Thailand||$724|
|Puerto Vallarta, Mexico||$318|
|City||Current round-trip price, on average|
|Fort Lauderdale, Fla.||$237|
|New York City, N.Y.||$207|
|Kansas City, Mo.||$200|
How to score a cheaper getaway this summer
While the prices above may be found online depending on your dates and departure city, Hopper notes that the best way to find the best pricing is by using their app, which it claims predicts airfare pricing up to one year in advance with 95 percent accuracy and could to lead to savings of up to 40 percent.
Here are some other ways to save on your summer getaway:
Save money on hotels
Kyle Valenta, executive editor for the hotel review site Oyster.com, says booking early is the best way to save on hotel stays. If it’s too late to book early, opt for early-week travel — as in Monday through Wednesday nights.
Also consider hotels that are slightly removed from your target destination, such as those just outside city centers or major tourist sites.
“If you’re seeking a beach, look a couple of miles inland for lower rates,” Valenta says. “If you’re visiting a national park, skip hotels that are in the towns that sit at the entrances to them and instead be willing to drive 20 to 30 minutes.”
Valenta also notes that hotels can be less pricey in June since school breaks haven’t universally hit across the country and hotel occupancy is generally a bit lower.
Consider off-peak travel days
No matter your travel plans, also remember that summer, which starts June 21, doesn’t officially end until Sept. 23, says Tracey Stewart, content editor for AirfareWatchDog.com.
“Fares tend to drop in the tail end of August and continue to do so into September,” Stewart says. “September is one of the best times to travel, as both fares and room rates are much cheaper, summer crowds begin to thin out and the weather is still warm.”
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, keeping these trends in mind can help you save hundreds of dollars. But no matter what you do, taking the time to compare pricing across several groups of dates will always yield the best results. A travel discount website like Expedia or Priceline can make it easy to find the cheapest combinations of travel dates, but you can also search for the best airfare pricing on Google Flights.
Use credit card rewards
Finally, there’s a reason so many families lean on credit card rewards to fund all or part of their summer travels. Airline miles can help reduce the cost of flights down to just government-mandated taxes and fees, and hotel points can be used to stay entirely free around the world. Flexible travel credit from cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or Capital One Venture Rewards Card can also be used to cover any type of travel without fear of blackout dates or capacity controls.
And if you don’t have any rewards to spend quite yet, don’t despair. Most travel credit cards offer a big signup bonus after you meet a minimum spending requirement within a few months. By signing up now, you can earn rewards on your summer travel and have some points to spend the next time around.