USA TODAY International Edition


Experts share tips on how to find the best deals

- Kathleen Wong

You might think it’s early to start thinking about summer travel, but this isn’t the year to wait if you want to save. Americans are beginning to plan their summer travels – and travel, they will. ●Three in 4 Americans are planning a trip this summer, according to a Booking. com survey. ● It will also be an expensive one. Thankfully, prices aren’t as high as last year since airlines have built back capacity, said Hayley Berg, lead economist for the travel app Hopper. But prices will remain above pre- pandemic levels because still high demand and inflation are continuing to drive them up.

A domestic roundtrip ticket will top out on average at $ 350 – 10% higher than in 2019, Berg said. Internatio­nal trips will be more expensive than in previous years, too, she said, since many internatio­nal destinatio­ns, such as Japan, are now open.

“Inflation, higher prices, every headwind you could throw in Americans’ way have not stopped them from prioritizi­ng travel, in some cases spending more than what they’ve previously spent,” she said.

USA TODAY spoke to top experts from the travel industry to get their tips on when to book summer travel and how to find the best deals.

Should I book summer travel now?

It depends. Berg recommends that people wait until the sweet spot of booking travel: one to two months before their departure date if traveling domestical­ly. Hopper’s data shows that prices are higher in mid- March and are expected to drop as the summer approaches.

“Don’t call it too close. Prices skyrocket as you get closer to June.”

Jake Bouvrie Chief economist at travel- booking platform KAYAK

But what you can do is start planning now, she said. Figure out potential travel dates and destinatio­ns and use a pricetrack­ing tool that alerts you when flights are lowest, which many travel platforms like Hopper and KAYAK have.

For internatio­nal trips, it’s time to get ready to book. Berg said that three to four months in advance is when there are the best prices for internatio­nal flights.

“Don’t call it too close,” said Jake Bouvrie, chief economist at travel-booking platform KAYAK. “Prices skyrocket as you get closer to June.” According to KAYAK data, prices are up 29% for visiting the usual popular European destinatio­ns, like London and Paris, during the peak season of June, July and August.

When is the cheapest time to travel during summer?

As usual, the highest costs will be for trips during peak season. “Consider traveling on the shoulder season” to find the lowest prices, Bouvrie said.

According to KAYAK’s research, if travelers book a flight for shoulder season ( the period between peak- and offseason), travelers could save up to 24% if they book a flight to the Caribbean and 27% to Europe.

KAYAK’s researcher­s found that April has the most affordable fares to Europe. The destinatio­ns with the best deals are London, Reykjavik, Iceland and Madrid.

On the other hand, Berg recommende­d booking that European getaway for September and October.

“End of summer is hands down the best time to go to Europe,” she said. “Prices drop early June until they bottom out in September and October.” ( Avoid August, she added, since Europeans tend to take their own vacations during that month, so lots of shops and restaurant­s will be closed.)

Here are the shoulder seasons for internatio­nal destinatio­ns, when travelers could score lower prices, according to KAYAK:

● Asia: Before the end of April and October.

● Central America: May.

● South Pacific: April to May.

● North America: September to October.

● Africa: September to November.

● Middle East: August to September.

● Northern South America: Before the end of April and September.

● Southern South America: April to May and September to October.

How long does it take to get a US passport?

If you’re traveling internatio­nally and need a passport, start making moves as soon as possible since passport wait times are up.

As of February, the processing time to get a passport extended to eight to 11 weeks for routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited service.

Usually, it takes six to nine weeks for routine service and three to five weeks for expedited service ( not counting mailing times).

Should we anticipate any major travel disruption­s this summer?

“I expect the majority of disruption­s on the whole for the rest of this year will be weather- related,” Berg said. There could be “speed bumps” along the way due to new workers with airlines and at security lines because the industry recently went through a hiring surge to keep up with demand.

“That means more mistakes might happen,” she said.

 ?? MARIDAV/ GETTY IMAGES ?? Three in 4 Americans are planning a summer trip, according to a Booking. com survey.
MARIDAV/ GETTY IMAGES Three in 4 Americans are planning a summer trip, according to a Booking. com survey.

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