Picture yourself on a tropical island somewhere. You're sitting in a lounge chair, your toes in the sand. You've got a piña colada in one hand and your favorite beach read in the other. You're tempted to jump on a plane and bring this image to fruition ASAP, right? Unfortunately, when it comes to travel, spontaneity might not be the brightest idea — financially speaking, anyway. According to a study conducted by CheapAir.com, planning ahead is the key to getting the best deals on airfare. And, depending a where in the world that tropical island is, cheap flights may require planning way ahead.
To find out what the sweet spot in for purchasing plane tickets to all sorts of different destinations, CheapAir.com looked at 350 million airfares for travel to 3,000 international markets. This morning, the online travel agency published the results of its 2018 International Airfare Study, and its results include prime booking window, least expensive day to book, average low fare, and least expensive day of the week to fly for eight different regions around the world. CheapAir.com also published an additional booking tip for each region.
As people who often find ourselves tempted to flit off on last minute vacation on almost a monthly basis, we were most interested to know how far in advance we should be booking flights. For trips to the Caribbean, CheapAir.com says the least expensive time to book is 207 days from departure. To save on airfare to South America, book 110 days in advance. For Asian adventures getaways, the sweet spot is 120 and 197 days ahead, respectively. The best deals on flights to Europe can be found 160 day before travel. Finally, trips to the Middle East and Africa should be booked 199 days ahead of time to get the most affordable airfares.
These 100-plus day grace periods are a little disappointing, but really, we needed to hear them. Someone has to keep our impulsive vacation fantasies in check. Plus, it's not all bad. There are are a few regions whose least expensive days to book aren't all that far in advance of the actual travel date. For instance, trips to Canada should be booked 66 days from departure. And, for travel to Mexico and Central America, CheapAir.com reports that 70 days from departure is the best time to purchase plane tickets. Okay, so we're well aware that over two months ahead isn't exactly last-minute, but sometimes you just can't be spontaneous and thrifty at the same time.