With the official start of summer less than two months away, you may have begun browsing travel sites for summer vacation ideas. As exciting as that process can be, it can also be daunting, because summer travel often comes with a big price tag.
"Alongside Christmas and New Year's, summer is one of the most expensive times of year to fly internationally." Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, tells Refinery29. "That's because it's a super popular time of year to travel, not just because of great weather, but because there's a glut of people who may only have a narrow travel window in the summer, like students, teachers, and families." Despite this excess of travelers, those looking to take a fun summertime trip shouldn't lose hope. Keyes has seven tips for how to find cheap flight even during this very busy travel season.
1. Book during the winter
Though it's too late to utilize this tactic for 2019 summer travel, Scott Keyes shares that the best time to book cheap summer flights is winter. "In general for peak summer flights, you want to try to book at least four to eight months ahead of time," he says. Keep this trick in mind for next year, and remember not to book just any fare during this date range. According to Keyes, "Wintertime is when summer fares are most likely to drop, and those excellent fares are the ones you want to hold out for."
2. Be flexible about dates and destinations
We may be past the period when summer flights are cheapest, but affordability isn't totally out the window. To give yourself a better chance at finding and snatching up those more affordable flights, Keyes explains it's important to be flexible. "If you're flexible on specific dates and locations, you're much more likely to get a decent fare than if you lock in a certain week or destination," he says.
3. Travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
As long as your being flexible about your dates and destination, why not also try to be flexible with the days of the week you're actually traveling on? According to Keyes, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest travel days, while Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive.
4. Consider breaking up your itinerary
Keyes encourages travelers who are visiting distant islands or a remote destination to do some investigating in order to see if it's cheaper to break up their trip into two separate itineraries. "This is called the Greek Island Trick," he explains. "Here's how it works: Let's say you live in NYC and want to go to Santorini. You pull up Google Flights and find that fares for that route are $1,500. Yikes. Instead of giving up your Santorini dream, check flights to Athens, which we recently found nonstop from NYC for $439 roundtrip. Once you're in Athens, flights to Santorini are about $60 roundtrip, bringing your total flight cost to $499, or a thousand bucks off the original $1,500. Plus you can spend some time in Athens as well before heading off to Santorini." Talk about a life hack.
5. Try to take your trip in June or late August
The summer is undeniably one of the most expensive travel seasons, however, Keyes points out that there are periods during the summer when airfare tends to be more affordable. "Early June or late August are quite a bit more likely to have cheap fares than July," he reveals. With that in mind, try to plan for a trip during the earliest or later parts of the season.
6. Don't wait
If you want to take a summer vacation, book it now. Like, right now. Seriously, stop waiting. You may be hoping an amazing deal will fall into your lap, but at this point, that's not likely. "Last-minute sales used to be common, but nowadays, airlines jack up the price in the final days before departure in order to get as much revenue as possible from business travelers who tend to wait until late to book their flights," Keyes tells Refinery29. "Plus, for summer travel, most leisure travelers will have booked up seats months ago."
7. Take a summer vacation during the Southern Hemisphere's summer
If you try all these tricks, but still can't find flights in your budget, consider postponing your summer vacation. How do you do that without missing summer altogether? Simply choose a destination in the Southern Hemisphere. "If you're just looking to travel in the best weather, consider booking Southern Hemisphere summer flights (January through March)," Keyes suggests. "It's one of the cheapest times of year to fly internationally, and weather is great in places like Argentina, Australia, and South Africa."