If you’re planning a summer getaway, better start hunting for deals.
Procrastinating could be a financial miss. Prices for summer airfares are expected to be up to 5.8 percent from last year, according to travel site Hopper.
“Our advice is always to plan ahead as early as possible,” said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper. “We’re already starting to see [summer] prices rise.”
Travelers may have already missed one deal window: Comparison site Hipmunk estimated that early May was one of the best times for booking summer airfares.
Here’s how to make sure you’re scoring a deal:
Rather than picking a specific destination and then trying to find deals, start by thinking about what you’d like in a trip — say, a beach trip or hiking, Surry said. Then search to see which spots have better pricing from your home airport for a summer trip.
Don’t count out international destinations. Many are cheaper this year as a result of currency fluctuations and concerns over terror attacks, he said.
Don’t limit your hunt to just one search site, or just the big names. In a recent analysis of airfare booking, Frommer’s found that Momondo and Skyscanner consistently spotted the lowest fares. On the hotel side, Booking.com took top honors, said Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommer’s.
“It’s not always casting a wide net; it’s using the right one,” she said.
“Prices are based on where people are interested in going, and the dates people are interested in traveling,” said Surry.
If you have flexibility on the timing of your trip, compare prices to see if you might score extra savings by picking one week over another. Families often time trips around the end and start of the school year, Surry said, so you might see better pricing if you can travel when most kids are still in class.
Some of the more comprehensive lodging search sites now incorporate “nontraditional” options like vacation rentals and short-term shares, Frommer said. Those can yield big savings: In an analysis last year, Hipmunk found savings of up to 63 percent compared with hotel rates in popular cities.
Savings extend beyond nightly rates, she said. Amenities like a kitchen and laundry room can cut on-the-ground costs, and you might also score free parking.