With lazy summer days behind us and back to school in full swing, you may find yourself reaching for your calendar. But before you book your next ticket outta here, check out these top travel hacks that’ll help take the frustration out of finding the right flight. From getting the best price on your ticket to finding the right departure time, travel is always better when planned with the information you need to make the right decisions. That’s why we’re here, crunching numbers from over 2 billion consumer queries to give you these top travel hacks that will help you book the right flight, every time.

Hoping to hit the skies? Here’s what you need to know about when to book your flight.

  • Planning ahead. Our data shows that, historically, travelers have found the best deals on domestic flights when booking at least 2-4 weeks ahead for domestic flights.
  • Everyone’s searching for travel while at work. Last year, KAYAK found that 57% of Americans are planning vacations while at the office, mostly between the hours of 11am and noon.
  • Flying out. For both international and domestic flights, Friday is the cheapest day to fly out/start your trip compared to any other day of the week. Monday is the most expensive day. By starting your trip on a Friday as opposed to a Monday, you can save approximately $100.
  • Coming home. Similarly, Monday is typically the cheapest day to return home. In comparison, Thursday is the most expensive day. By returning home on a Monday as opposed to a Thursday, you can save approximately $100.

Listen up: there’s no magic day to travel. Really. But with millions of searches happening on KAYAK every day, we’re able to get a good sense of when travelers are finding the least (or most) expensive fares. We’ve broken it down by season, so you know which days to try out (or avoid) depending on your travel plans.

When looking at the full year, however, there are a few days that stand out as THE most and least expensive for the entire year. For domestic travel, the least expensive days of the year, regardless of season, are January 27th and 28th. The most expensive day of the year is December 26th, when everyone is flocking home from holiday vacation. For international travel, the hands-down cheapest days of the year to fly are February 23rd and March 2nd. What dates should you try to avoid if at all possible? The weekend before Christmas (December 16 through 18) takes the prize as the most expensive time of the year overall to travel internationally.

Most/Least Expensive Days

The tables below show the most and least expensive days to travel by season. It’s important to note that flying out and flying home were taken into consideration when gathering these dates.

For Domestic Travel (by Season)

Winter Travel

(December 21 – March 20)

The day after Christmas appears to be one of the most expensive travel days across the board. For 2016, December 25th was a Sunday, making it even more imperative for people to get back home and back to work that Monday. As an alternative that won’t break the bank, forgo traveling during Martin Luther King weekend and consider traveling the days after, when prices are lower and crowds are fewer. Specifically, January 27th through 28th of 2016 were among the cheapest of the winter season to travel domestically.

Spring Travel

(March 20 – June 21)

It’s a known fact that traveling during the holidays is typically fairly pricey and Spring holidays are no different. But, surprisingly, it wasn’t Easter weekend that took the prize as the most expensive weekend of Spring to fly — it was the weekend after (April 9th)! As an alternative, traveling toward the end of April when the weather gets warmer — but isn’t quite beach season yet — is the perfect time to get outta town. Based on 2016 data, April 29th was one of the least expensive days to fly.

Summer Travel

(June 21 – September 22)

Sweet summertime (aka peak travel season) will typically yield more crowds and higher price tags. So, try to avoid travel at the end of July (specifically July 31). This is when travel summer airfare to domestic destinations appear to be at their peak. But, if your travel dates are flexible and you’re looking to save a couple bucks, consider scheduling your trip for September. More specifically, the second week in September (September 9-10) was among the least expensive travel days of summer.

Autumn Travel

(September 22 – December 21)

In 2016, AAA projected that 48.7 million Americans would journey 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the holidays, we typically see supply and demand play a major role in flight prices. With that many people traveling in such a short timeframe, it’s no wonder the Sunday after Thanksgiving saw a major spike in airfare expense. Take that into consideration when planning where you’ll enjoy that turkey. Alternatively, one of the least expensive days of fall to travel was December 9.

For International Travel (by Season)

Winter Travel

December 21 – March 20

“Home for the holidays” can mean different things to different people. If your home (or home away from home) is abroad, then expect prices to rise around the holidays. In 2016, the most expensive day to travel was Wednesday, December 21. With Christmas on a Sunday, travelers were turning their excursion aboard into a long weekend jaunt. We expect to see similar stakes apply this year, when Christmas is on a Monday. Now, when’s the least expensive time to take an international winter flight? It was a toss up between February 23rd and March 2nd in 2016. Fortunately, as this is usually when the doldrums of winter start to set in, you can take advantage of lower airfare and go somewhere warm.

Spring Travel

March 20 – June 21

When school’s out for summer (at the end of Spring), what are people doing? Heading out on their first trip of the season, of course. That’s likely why the most expensive time to go for a Spring vacation in 2016 was Sunday, June 19th and Monday, June 20th. But all is not lost for Spring. If you’re hoping to avoid the April vacation upcharge, we found that the least expensive day to head abroad in 2016 was April 27th.

Summer Travel

June 21 – September 22

It may be surprising that international airfares see fireworks on July 4th. The holiday was on a Monday in 2016, likely making people take advantage of a short work week to get their travel in. If you want to save money this season, we found that the last days of summer in 2016 — specifically Thursday, September 15th — had the lowest airfare. This is usually when Summer Fridays roll to an end and school in session, meaning less travelers in the air.

Autumn Travel

September 22 – December 21

With the holidays in full swing, we again saw an increase in airfare prices in December 2016. The most expensive days to take an international flight were Friday, December 16th through Sunday, December 18th. AKA the weekend before Christmas. Basically, if you’re decking the halls in another country, expect to pay a premium for your ticket. However, for those looking for a pre-holiday trip that won’t break the bank, Thursday November 10th was the least expensive day to go on an international flight in 2016. So avoid the Thanksgiving travel headache and take advantage of an early-November trip.

We created Hacker Fares because we knew that sometimes booking two one-way flights instead of a standard round-trip ticket could help save travelers money. But exactly how much? While all sorts of variables go into the science, what’s clear to us is that there are certain destinations where you’re usually better off snagging a Hacker Fare than booking a traditional ticket. Below are the best deal destinations for hacker fares.

Top 3 Hacker Fare Destinations

These destinations are where Hacker Fares are most effective:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland: Booking a Hacker Fare instead of a round-trip flight can save you 19%
  2. Myrtle Beach, SC: Booking a Hacker Fare instead of a round-trip flight can save you 19%
  3. Cartagena, Colombia: Booking a Hacker Fare instead of a round-trip flight can save you 10%

Looking for more tips, tricks and trends? Check out our post on low fare tips.



KAYAK looked at both domestic and international RT, coach flights with US locales. All flight searches were pulled for search dates between July 1, 2016 and June 30th 2017 for travel dates between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.  Prices and savings may vary.

Hacker Fare Methodology:

KAYAK looked at both domestic and international RT, economy flights with US locales. All flight searches were pulled for search dates between July 1, 2016 and June 30th 2017 and travel dates between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

About the author

KAYAK Since 2004, KAYAK has been revolutionising the travel industry. Metasearch for travel? No one was doing it. Until we did. Today, we process billions of queries across our platforms each year for travel information, helping millions of travellers around the globe make confident decisions. With every query, KAYAK searches hundreds of travel sites to show travellers the information they need to find the right flights, hotels, hire cars and holiday packages.

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