We analyzed a year's worth of data to present KAYAK's 2014 Travel Guide: everything you need to know to save money on travel this year. Given travelers conduct more than 100 million queries a month on KAYAK's website and mobile apps, we have a very large data set from which we can glean insights for travelers.
Overall, carefully picking your travel dates and how far in advance you purchase can save you money. Contrary to urban legend, the day of the week you book doesn't make a difference in what you pay. In other words, there's no noticeable difference between booking on a Tuesday or a Saturday, or any other day.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Best Days to Travel
-Domestic departures: Friday
-International departures: Tuesday or Wednesday
-Domestic and international returns: Monday (except for Europe, which is Tuesday)
-Tip: Flying on Saturday or Sunday in any region can result in paying 15% above average airfares
Best Months to Travel: January (18% below the 2013 average airfare), followed by February and April (15% and 10% below average).
Save Summer Travel for August: Travel in August instead of June or July and you could save up to 13%.
HOW SOON YOU SHOULD BOOK
Book Ahead Based on Your Destination: The best time to book depends on where you're headed:
-Domestic: Book between 3-7 weeks out
-Europe: 8-10 weeks out
-Asia: 9-10 months out. If you miss this window, shoot for 3-4 months out
-South America: 6 months out
-Central America: 6-8 weeks out
-Africa: 3-5 weeks out
-Caribbean: 2-3 weeks out, but unlike all other regions, you can still get a deal one week out (i.e. it's a great last-minute destination)
BIGGEST DROPS IN PRICING
The Top Three: Unlike 2012, when Toronto was the only city that saw a drop in average airfare (3%) in 2013, many cities saw decreases: Anchorage and San Jose Cabo saw some of the biggest at 10% and 8%, respectively.
San Francisco Sees Huge Drop in Hotel Rates: San Francisco hotel rates dropped 35% in 2013 - a staggering number, especially given the city's popularity.
BIGGEST JUMPS IN POPULARITY
Hawaii Sees Biggest Spikes in Popularity: Compared to 2012, Kahului topped our list of trending hotel destinations with a 129% increase in search share. The city also came in #6 for trending flight destinations with an 11% increase since 2012. Lihue followed closely behind at #9.
Tokyo Tourism on the Rise: Out of our top 100 most-searched flight destinations, Tokyo saw the 4th largest spike in popularity (12%) and hotel searches were also up 35% compared to 2012. Tokyo hotel prices were also down substantially (16%) compared to 2012.