Planning a Trip in 2024? Here’s the Best Time to Book Your Flight, According to Experts

written by LAUREN BLUE
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson
Graphics by: Aryana Johnson

Now that we’re a few weeks into January, the resolutions have been written and the vision boards made, which means it’s time to put some of those goals into action. If you’re anything like me, you covered your 2024 inspo board with photos of beautiful beaches, glamorous city nights, and mountain getaways, but (unfortunately) visualization alone isn’t going to pay for your plane ticket. To make sure these trips make it out of the group chat and into reality, you’ll need to plan ahead to get the best flight price. Here are the insider tricks you need to know, including the best time to book flights, depending on where you’re headed.

The Best Time to Book Flights in 2024

For Domestic Travel

Procrastinators, listen up. As tempting as it is to pack your bag on a whim and catch the first flight out to a stunning destination, it’s not a cost-effective way to travel. It pays to think ahead—literally. According to research from Expedia, the sweet spot for booking domestic flights is 28 days before your trip. The data shows that travelers who purchased their ticket at this time saved up to 24 percent compared to those who waited until the last minute.

To save even more money on flights, you might want to reconsider how you plan trips in the first place. It’s common to decide on the destination first, the dates second, and the flight third, but if you’re flexible with when and where you’re going, you can choose your future vacay based on the cheapest plane tickets. Your bank account will thank you, and you can focus more of your budget on the actual vacation, not just getting there.

For International Travel

If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to book your tickets even earlier in advance. To get the cheapest prices, the best time to book international flights is generally at least 60 days ahead of time, but don’t get too eager. The experts at Expedia caution against booking more than four months out, as you might not see the best selection or savings that early. By booking just two months in advance, you’ll still have ample time to plan your trip itinerary and pack your outfits.

And of course, when you plan to travel is just as important as when you book. If you’re dreaming about sipping an aperol spritz in Italy this summer or living out your The Holiday fantasy by spending Christmas in London, you might want to look at traveling in May or January instead. Flights are most expensive around peak travel dates, including mid-June through mid-August and around Christmas and New Year’s, so keep that in mind while planning.

Source: @fashion_jackson

Other Ways to Save Money on Travel in 2024

Read on for even more tricks to make your trip as budget-friendly as possible. From booking to boarding, you’ll know you got the best price and have that much left in your travel budget to spend when you get there.

Book your flight on a Sunday

Good news for the Sunday reset fans who like to get all their ducks in a row before starting a new week. The cheapest day of the week to buy plane tickets is Sunday, so if you’re planning an upcoming trip, add booking a flight to your to-do list right between “take an everything shower” and “wash sheets.” On the flip side, the most expensive day to book a flight is Friday, so resist the temptation to purchase tickets for that girls’ trip immediately after grabbing post-work TGIF drinks with your besties.

Fly out on a Thursday

As far as your actual flight dates, the cheapest day to travel is generally Thursday, when travelers save an average of 16 percent compared to those who travel on a Sunday, according to Expedia. And if you’re worried about flight delays or cancellations, consider snagging an early departure time. While no one loves an early morning flight, flights after 3 p.m. have a higher chance of cancellations than those earlier in the day. Get to sleep early Wednesday night and dream about all the money you’re saving, and that early alarm Thursday morning won’t be quite as painful.

Track flight prices

Another way to stay on top of savings is to track flight prices on platforms like Google Flights or Hopper. Google Flights allows you to monitor the prices of specific flights and set up notifications for when prices drop. Similarly, Hopper is a travel booking app that tracks flight prices, hotel rooms, and car rentals all in one place, so you know you’re getting the lowest price available. No one likes random spam emails, but signing up for airline email lists is another great way to stay notified when flash sales or deals occur.

Pack efficiently

The potential for savings doesn’t end when you find the perfect ticket. Getting savvy with your packing can also help you cut travel costs. No one wants to pay checked bag fees, and chances are you won’t wear half of the things you swear you need anyway. Opting for a carry-on avoids unnecessary extra charges and makes lugging your things around much easier, especially if you’re on a multi-city trip.