When you’re caught in the whirl of the holidays (and top holiday travel destinations), it’s borderline impossible to think about the upcoming year. However, there is a chance you do need to start planning your 2024 trips now if you want to be savvy with your money.
The cost of your airfares and lodgings does vary based on what time of year you book — plus, your options for travel change, too. Here’s what you need to know about the best times to book 2024 holidays to ensure you’re saving money and getting the most bang for your buck with your trip.
The ideal windows to book flights and hotels
Booking at the last minute for a trip will almost always lead you to pay much more than you would have liked to spend. Prices for hotels and flights careen up as the date approaches, and as they get booked, you have fewer and fewer options. Budget vacation choices will get swooped — as will the flights with the most convenient times and the lodgings with the most attractive amenities.
However, you don’t want to book too far in advance, either. That, too, can lead to you spending an unnecessary amount of cash. There is a “Goldilocks window,” according to the Points Guy, which posits that the best time to book a domestic flight is three to six months before your plans, while you’ll want to purchase international airfare four to eight months beforehand.
Of course, other experts suggest you may have even more time than that to book your flights now. A recent report from Expedia, which used its own data as well as information from Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and travel data provider OAG, suggested the ideal time to buy the cheapest trip is actually 28 days before a domestic flight and 60 days before an international flight.
Other interesting findings? Book a Sunday flight to get the lowest price (Fridays are the most expensive day to fly, typically!), and if you’re planning a trip in the U.S., you may want to avoid NYC, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles because they’re expected to be the top destinations for travelers in 2024.
Book now if you want to travel internationally for summer 2024
The reality is that travel is still wonky from the pandemic, which means that if you’re looking to fly internationally, especially this summer (the most popular time to vacation for Americans), it’s probably for the best to get on it ASAP, as prices will simply start to soar as the high season approaches.
The issue is that there are still trips and events that were postponed due to COVID-19 that are now being held, and there are also plenty of people who are more eager to travel than ever after the pandemic’s peak.
“Pre-pandemic, there was a tendency to book later and later and later, simply because there wasn’t an issue about supplying the products, because it seemed like there was an endless supply,” Dino Triantafillou, managing director of tour operator Italian Journeys, explained to CNN Travel. “And so that’s been pushed back now because of the supply issues and the huge demand. So inevitably, something has to give, and that means clients have to book at least six to 12 months in advance to get what they want at the right price.”
So, if you have your heart set on a Grecian beach or a Paris night out this summer, you’d do well to start planning now to ease your budgetary burdens.
The bottom line on when to book vacations
While it doesn’t make sense to book a trip too early (most airlines and hotels will only let you book a year out anyway), with 2024 almost here, it’s wise to start planning as soon as possible if summer is your preferred time to travel. Otherwise, you should prep for domestic trips about three months in advance and international ones four to six months beforehand.
But keep in mind, flight forecasting is a tricky business, and prices do vary dramatically based on demand and destination. Sign up for a flight tracker so you’re aware of price dips, use the best travel websites to save money, and try to be flexible when planning — your wallet will thank you.