Should I book my summer travel now? Travel experts share how to find the best deals. (2024)

You might think it's early to start thinking about summer travel, but this isn't the year to wait if you want to save. Americansare beginning to plan their summer travels– and travel, they will.

Three in 4 Americans are planning a trip this summer, according to a Booking.com survey.

It will also be an expensive one. Thankfully, prices aren't as high as last yearsince airlines have built back capacity, said Hayley Berg, lead economist for the travel app Hopper. Butprices will remain above pre-pandemic levelsbecause still high demand and inflation are continuing to drive them up.

A domestic roundtrip ticketwill top out on average at $350 – 10% higher than in 2019, Berg said. International trips will be more expensive than in previous years, too, she said, since many international destinations, such as Japan,are now open.

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"Inflation, higher prices, every headwind you could throw in Americans' way have not stopped them from prioritizing travel, in some cases spending more than what they've previously spent," she said.

USA TODAY spoke totop experts from the travel industry to get their tips on when to book summer travel and how to find the best deals.

Should I book summer travel now?

It depends. Berg recommends that people wait until the sweet spot of booking travel: one to two months before their departure date if traveling domestically.Hopper's data shows that prices are higher in mid-March and are expected to drop as the summer approaches.

But what you can do is start planning now, she said. Figure out potential travel dates and destinations and use a price-tracking tool that alerts you when flights are lowest, which many travel platforms like Hopper and KAYAK have.

For international trips, it's time to get ready to book. Berg said that three to four months in advance is when there are the best prices for international flights.

"Don't call it too close," said Jake Bouvrie, chief economist at travel-booking platform KAYAK. "Prices skyrocket as you get closer to June." According to KAYAK data, prices are up 29% for visiting the usual popularEuropean destinations, like London and Paris, during the peak season of June, July and August.

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Whenis the cheapest time to travel during summer?

As usual, the highest costs will be for trips during peak season."Consider traveling on the shoulder season" to find the lowest prices,Bouvrie said.

According to KAYAK's research,if travelers book a flight for shoulder season (the period between peak- and off-season),travelers could save up to 24% if they book a flight to the Caribbean and 27% to Europe. KAYAK's researchers found that April has the most affordable fares to Europe. The destinations with the best deals are London, Reykjavik, Iceland,and Madrid.

On the other hand, Berg recommended booking that European getawayfor September and October. "End of summer is hands down the best time to go to Europe," she said. "Prices drop early June until they bottom out in September and October." (Avoid August, she added, since Europeans tend to take their own vacations during that month, so lots of shops and restaurants will be closed.)

Here are the shoulder seasonsfor international destinations, when travelers could score lower prices,according to KAYAK:

  • Asia: Before the end of April and October.
  • Central America: May.
  • South Pacific: April to May.
  • North America: September to October.
  • Africa: September to November.
  • Middle East: August to September.
  • Northern South America: Before the end of April and September.
  • Southern South America: April to May and September to October.

How long does it take to get a US passport?

If you're traveling internationally and need a passport, start making moves as soon as possible since passport wait times are up.

As of February, the processing time to get a passportextended to eight to 11 weeks for routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited service.

Usually, it takes six to nine weeks for routine service and three to five weeks for expedited service (not counting mailing times).

Should we anticipate any major travel disruptions this summer?

"I expect the majority of disruptions on the whole for the rest of this year will be weather-related," Berg said. There could be "speed bumps" along the way due to new workers with airlines and at security lines because the industry recently went through a hiring surge to keep up with demand. "That means more mistakes might happen," she said.

Tips for summer travel

  • "My number one recommendation is to remain flexible and open to adjusting your travel dates," Axel Hefer, CEO of trivago, said. For example, traveling on a weekday will be cheaper than on the weekend.
  • Consider staying in alternative destinations that are just outside of main tourist cities to save money on accommodations, Hefer said.
  • Avoid traveling during July 4 because it"always consistently ranks among the most expensive times to fly," Bouvrie said. The week before major holidays tends to be much cheaper.
  • If peak season is the only time you can travel, like it is for many people who abide by school schedules, then "later in the summer is best," Berg said.
  • Don't book last minute because prices tend to be pretty expensive then and you're likely low on options.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter based in Hawaii. You can reach her at kwong@usatoday.com

Should I book my summer travel now? Travel experts share how to find the best deals. (2024)

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