When Is the Best Time to Book Travel?

family and dog sitting by a lake

Travel planning can be stressful. Where should we go? What’s the exchange rate? Is my passport still valid? Where is my passport? And then there’s the question of how to get there and where to stay. How far out should I book my flight? When will I get the best deal? Am I getting ripped off?

We’re here to make travel planning an easier and more simplified experience for you. So we sorted through the trustworthy sources on the web, talked to some experts in the know, and distilled some actually helpful travel-booking advice. Read on to learn when is the best time to click “book now.”

When To Book Your Flight

You’ve probably heard the rumor that it’s cheapest to book flights on Tuesdays. Well, you’re in luck, because this is actually 100% true. Skyscanner analyzed the price of every domestic and international flight booked in 2018 and found that buying your flight on Tuesdays will get you the cheapest airfare.

chart of average flight prices based on day you book

There is also conclusive data to show that there’s also a best time to pull the trigger on your flight purchase. Booking flights at 5:00 a.m. will get you the best deal, while 8:00-11:00 p.m. tends to have the highest fares of the day.

How Far Out Should You Book?

It’s tempting to commit to your flight purchase the moment you decide where you’re going and when. However, we found that booking too early (seven months or more in advance) is likely to land you with higher fares that you’d expect. CheapAir.com recommends paying attention to the “prime booking window” which is four months to three weeks before a trip. During that time, sign up for email alerts on fares or check them frequently. This way, you have an idea of the general scope of the fares you’re working with, and you can wait for a price dip to buy your ticket.

But, don’t wait too long! In the last two weeks before a flight, fares rise $208 on average. It’s possible to get lucky last minute, but it’s more likely that flights will sell out or leave you with an expensive ticket. (Do you feel like this is gambling? It feels a little like gambling.)

As you regularly search for flights, consider disabling the collection of third-party cookies in your browser. It’s been reported that browser cookies and repeated searches can be used to increase flight prices. We think this is pretty shady, but unfortunately, some sites follow this practice.

If You’re Traveling Internationally

The best time to book an international flight is typically five to six months in advance, but prices tend to take another dip one to two months in advance. If you’re three or four months out from a trip, we suggest getting fare update emails or searching fares frequently to see how they’re trending.

If you have a specific destination in mind but are flexible on when you’ll travel, use a tool like SkyScanner for your flight search. They track flight prices over time and can give you an idea of when you should travel based on research from the previous year. In general, April and October are often reported as the cheapest months to travel internationally.

If You’re Traveling Domestically

The best time to book domestic flights is typically two to three months or two to three weeks before you travel. January, February, and August are generally reported as the cheapest months to book tickets as well as the cheapest months to travel.

I’ve Got My Flight—What About My Hotel?

After you book your flight, stop watching the fares and cancel any email subscriptions for fare updates. You won’t want to know if the flights happen to get cheaper. You’ve got bigger things to focus on, like getting a great deal on a hotel and booking your activities.

When booking hotels, you can find the best deals three to four weeks before you travel. Like flights, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your options and start monitoring fares early. With Roomkey, you can search across multiple hotel chains and decide which one works best for you. Then monitor the rates by setting price alerts before booking directly with the hotel.

Some sources reported that booking hotels over the weekend can result in a lower rate because fewer people are looking during that time. Hotels can also have the best last-minute deals, dropping rates by 10-20% one to three days in advance so they don’t leave rooms empty.

Where Should I Book My Hotel?

You’re always better off booking on the hotel’s own website. It’s safer than using third-party booking sites, and you’ll find the lowest rates there, usually through their loyalty programs (which you should 100% sign up for—they’re free, and you can join as many as you want, with instant access to their loyalty rates.)

But on the off-chance that you do find a better rate at a third-party site, hotels will usually match those fares if you call the hotel directly. Don’t be afraid to negotiate if you see a hotel listed for a cheaper price on another site. (Click here to find out why we say “off-chance.”)

Contacting the hotel directly can not only land you a better deal, it can sometimes get you an upgrade. Hotel employees have a better idea of their occupancy and rates than travel booking sites, and they’re usually able to work with you, so you get the most out of your travel.

Once you’ve picked the perfect day to sit down and actually book yourself a hotel room for your next trip, we’re here to help. We’ve partnered with more than 60 hotel chains around the world to help you find a hotel that fits your needs. Simply type in your desired destination, scroll through your options. When you’ve found the one, we’ll take you directly to your selected hotel’s website to complete your booking. It’s that simple. With Roomkey, we do the hard work so you can get straight to your travel.