Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

When is the best time to book a holiday? 10 expert tips on money-saving flights

Map planning.jpg

The festive season is over, the days are dark, and payday is but a glittering mirage on the horizon. It's no surprise that we all start dreaming of a holiday in January - but is it the best time to book one?

Deciding when to book a getaway is something of a science. 

After analysing data from more than a billion searches on their website, travel search engine, Kayak, found that the price of a flight can be affected by a whole range of factors - from how far ahead it is booked, to the time of year. And crucially, it's not always as easy as: "book far in advance" or "avoid the school holidays".

We took a look at what they found. With these canny tips and a bit of careful planning, you could save a small fortune. Bon voyage... 

1) Fancy a spring break? Book now

Los Angeles

Book a spring trip to L.A. four months ahead of time

For a spring holiday, it’s almost always cheapest to book four to six months in advance. Take Los Angeles, for example: a return trip to La-La Land can cost over a grand, but you can find springtime flights for around £400 if you book four months ahead.

2) Springtime flights are cheapest mid-morning 

Girl flying

11am is the best time to fly in the spring.

Brits wanting to head abroad in the early months of the year should book outbound flights for around 11am. You could save over 66% compared to other times of day – money which you can then spend in duty-free. Result.

3) Book flights over six months ahead for a cheaper summer holiday

Tenerife

The beaches of Tenerife: a classic British summer holiday.

Summer is the most expensive time of year for holidays, but travellers can cut costs by booking flights seven to eight months in advance. Holidaymakers heading to Tenerife or Bangkok, for example, could save more than 60% on flights if they booked over six months ahead.

4) Cheap flights in summer mean setting your alarm EARLY

Tired woman

An early wake-up call - worth it to save money on flights.

The more hideously early the flight, the cheaper it'll be - during the summer months, at least. We're talking 4am early here (shudder). Next time you find yourself stumbling through a too-bright departure lounge in the early hours of the morning, freezing to death because you’re dressed for Greece but still in Gatwick, just think of all the money you're saving. That'll keep you warm.  

5) For an autumn adventure, plan 10  months in advance

Vancouver

Autumn is the perfect time to visit Vancouver - but book ahead.

For some reason, the best autumn deals can usually be found almost a year ahead. Spain is by far the most popular destination for Brits heading abroad over the autumn, and trips to Ibiza, Malaga and Barcelona are all cheapest when booked 9-11 months in advance. It’s the same for more far-flung destinations: you can save up to 30% on flights to Orlando, Sydney, San Francisco and Vancouver by booking 10 months ahead.

6) Winter: t’is the season to be last-minute (but only if you’re going to Europe)

Couple on city break

A winter break in Europe can be booked last-minute.

Winter is the only season where you can regularly find great deals closer to the departure date. It also has the biggest potential savings for Euro-breaks: booking a winter trip to Rome two months in advance can save over 60% on flights. If you’re heading further afield, though – say, to Australia or Asia – it’s still best to book at least four months ahead. 

7) Fly in the afternoon during autumn and winter

Plane

Flying in the afternoon is cheaper later in the year.

Flying in the afternoon is more relaxing than a hellish early start – and during the colder months, it’s much cheaper, too. You can save over 50% on airfares by booking flights that depart after midday, so treat yourself to a lie-in.

8) Avoid travelling at the weekend if possible

Travel planning

It's always cheaper to travel mid-week.

Stating the obvious, perhaps, but weekend flights are always more expensive than mid-week trips, whatever the season. Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the best days for scoring low outbound fares. 

9) Don’t fly out and in on the same day of the week

Girl airport

Avoid flying back and forth on the same weekday.

Flights for a holiday that runs Tuesday-Tuesday, for example, will usually cost more than heading out on a Tuesday and coming back on a Wednesday. Instant justification for booking that extra day off work? You’re welcome.

10) ... Unless it’s autumn

Paris autumn

Spend a week on an autumn holiday.

Don’t ask us why; we don’t make the rules. If you’re going abroad over the autumn, feel free to stick to the standard seven-day trip – flights won’t cost you any more if you fly out and in on the same day of the week. 

Happy holidays!

Photos: Thinkstock

Related

brimnes-hotel.jpg

Escape the grind with our pick of six luxurious log cabin getaways

Copenhagen.jpg

10 European city breaks you deserve to take this winter

Cartagena,-Colombia.jpg

Travel trends of 2016: the hottest places to holiday next year

1. Hotel ION Nesjavellir Nordurljos-61b.jpg

Take a wintry break amid Iceland's natural wonders

1.jpg

The most stylish budget hotels around the world

screen-shot-2015-11-24-at-17-59-56.png

Seven seriously hip hotels to follow on Instagram

ThinkstockPhotos-492624305.jpg

Two British places top National Geographic Traveler's trips of 2016

GettyImages-563474435.jpg

Flying to New York could soon cost as little as £45

colouring-book-travel.jpg

Travelling colouring book for grown-ups takes you around the world

Comments

More

These are the holiday destinations everyone is booking for 2017

Will you follow the crowd?

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017

It's official: these are the 10 best beaches in the world

From tranquil Caribbean coves to beautiful pink sands in Crete

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 Feb 2017

First woman to visit every single country reveals top 5 destinations

From Mongolia to Pakistan

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

The adventure-hungry pilot encouraging female aviators everywhere

Eser Aksan Erdogan is high on life

by Anna Brech
17 Feb 2017

Need solo travel inspiration? Find your dream destination here

City break or beach holiday...?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 Feb 2017

Where to go in spring: the best holidays for March, April and May

Insider knowledge on falling prices, the best springtime skiing and avoiding tourist hordes

by Amy Swales
15 Feb 2017

The 12 hippest European neighbourhoods to visit this year

Coffee shops, vintage boutiques, and outsider art, from Athens to Oslo.

by Moya Crockett
14 Feb 2017

Soak up sea views and culture in Barcelona

Stylist's entertainment editor Helen Bownass rediscovers Barcelona's cool

by Helen Bownass
07 Feb 2017

There's a new Gin School and we're desperate to enrol

Me please, Miss

by Kayleigh Dray
01 Feb 2017

A winter wonderland in the Canadian Rockies

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Stylist’s Sue Fowler straps on her skis and tours the Rockies.

by The Stylist web team
31 Jan 2017