Summer travel hacks: How to save money on flights and vacations

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Monday, May 29, 2023
How to save money on summer vacation flights
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Summer vacation planning may have passed what experts call the Goldilocks window, but there are lots of way to get cheap flights for a holiday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer travel season and you may be thinking of a getaway.

Travel experts typically recommend booking domestic flights three to seven months in advance for peak season, a time known in the industry as the "Goldilocks window."

But does that mean it's too late to find a hot summer deal? Not necessarily.

While the Goldilocks window may be expiring for booking peak season domestic travel, there is still time to save. Katy Nastro from travel website recommended abiding by the 21 day rule.

"So if you're totally trying not to get hosed, and you just want to find a decent price, circle 21 days before that day, you're looking to fly. So at least, you know. 'Okay, I'm getting a decent price at this point in time,'" she advised.

Nastro said you may still be able to find good deals now for the first two weeks of June, before children are out of school. There's also a window in the last two weeks of August when many kids are back in school.

"There's a likelihood that you can actually save about 40% on average traveling those two weeks, or within those two weeks versus the middle of July, when everybody is off from school, you know," she said. "That's one sure thing that you can count on. Everybody will be off from school or off of the school schedule."

And summer may also be a time to save on hotter, more tropical destinations that are popular in in the winter and spring.

"Great air fare deals can happen at any time. You know, we just recently found a deal on going for $321 down to Costa Rica you know, over the summer months," Nastro said.

Experts say you should also book a nonstop flight, which is about seven times more likely to make it to the destination on time. Book early morning flights to avoid delays.

"A morning flight has a 25 percentage point higher on0time arrival, versus in afternoon or an evening flight. And that's because weather tends to be better in the morning, as well as your flight is not coming from somewhere else. That airplane is already at the airport for that beautiful 6 a.m. departure," Nastro said.

Despite continuing inflation, experts say airfare prices are down about 6% from time last year. Frequent flyer programs and airline credit cards can also help you save.