Why January Could Be the Best Time to Book (and Take) Trips

Cheaper to book in January
Photo: Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Earlier this month, flight search engine Skyscanner announced that January will be the best time to book affordable flights for 2018. Their data — based on searches from more than 60 million monthly users — suggests that the first two weeks of January will offer the best prices on flights taken in the first half of the year.

By March, domestic flight prices could rise by 13 percent, and international flights could become 56 percent more expensive than the year-round average. And Skyscanner isn’t the only site to pinpoint January as the best month for cheap flight bookings.

According to Hipmunk’s just-released annual travel planning guide, January is the most “cost-effective month” for travelers. By analyzing three million flights made over the course of an 18-month window, the site determined January is the best time to book and (if you’re feeling spontaneous) take affordable trips.

This, of course, is consistent with historical travel trends. Every year, Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica told Travel + Leisure, travelers can find deals during the post-holiday slump. Typically, this period begins on January 4 and stretches until February 15, when prices take an uptick.

The cheapest time to book and the cheapest time to travel don't always coincide — but they can.

Even if you’re not ready to book, January is certainly the best time to start planning trips and setting airfare alerts. If you know where you want to go in 2018, track prices with apps like Hopper or websites such as Kayak, Airfarewatchdog, and Google Flights. They'll let you know whether you should book right now, or wait a while, based on past trends and demand for that specific route.

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