Cheap flights and hotels: the best time to book a vacation

Which days of the week do you pay less? Is it worth buying tickets together? Better wait for the last or book in advance?

If you are anxious or psychic, the problem is already resolved. For all the others, these are the crucial days of summer bookings: but how to tackle the jungle of rising prices for hotels and flights? It may be useful to take a scientific look at the mechanisms that determine the cost fluctuations found on the search engines.

Last-minute packages have discounted prices, and at the same time, in high season, you can get to pay a room or a flight even 60% more than those who have moved in time. Let’s see how to leverage the knowledge of this mechanism to spend less for air travel and hotels.

WHEN TO PURCHASE FLIGHTS? The best time to book depends on the popularity of the destination. If the destination is ticked – and the airline is not likely to stay empty – it’s better to book ahead in advance to secure the lowest rates, which will then disappear from the system. If the destination is less popular, you can dare a little more: if the booked seats are less than expected, then the company may decide to discount the rates, not to have empty seats.

If you wait till the last minute, a good time to try to book it could be 10 days before the flight: airlines prices follow a U-curve, a week before the flight is already too late.

WHICH DAYS OF THE WEEK? Logic would say to avoid the weekend (the moment you book most travels). But according to the 2016 annual report, the best airline and hotel rates are on Sundays and Tuesdays.

IS IT BETTER TO BUY TOGETHER OR ONE BY ONE? If you have to buy airline tickets for many people, better split into small groups, or decide that each one thinks for themselves. We have simulated the purchase of 50 airline tickets with a low-cost company, and have seen that buying block tickets can be more expensive. If you only buy one you will stay at a discounted rate, but if you ask for two, you will end up paying both for the highest price, while the low-cost ticket will remain free and unsold.

DELETE YOUR COOKIES. During the frantic price comparisons of flight search engines such as Kayak or Skyskanner, our preferences are stored in pieces of software automatically saved on the pc, cookies. The next time you look for that flight, the rates will probably be higher. Remember to delete cookies before a new search, or to browse in incognito.

STOP HALF WAY. For those traveling with only hand luggage and who want to buy a one-way ticket, another trick is to look for connecting flights: sometimes they cost less than those direct ones. A direct flight to San Francisco could cost more than a connecting flight to Seattle stopping in San Francisco: just remember not to board the second time.

THE RULE OF HOTELS. Hotel prices are less volatile than flights. In general, by booking early you will find better deals. Rates may also vary depending on the type of stay. If you are going on holiday in a holiday resort, you will hardly find an advantage over the weekend: if you can, book in the middle of the week. In contrast, job travel destinations in cities tend to have higher hotel prices during the week.

FOR NEXT TIME … If you have already booked, consider some tips for future holidays. The Facebook and Twitter site pages and their mailing lists often offer tedious fees as a result of programming errors: you can take advantage of them, knowing that the flight may be canceled (in that case, they are required to repay). Sites like cheapflightslab.com or flynous.com report these anomalies and allow you to schedule unexpected vacations.