The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel

Here are our best tips for booking travel in 2023.

Find out the best times to book flights for the top deals.
Photo: Getty Images

Finding the best flight deals is a bit of an art form, but there's also some science — or at least economics — involved. There are only two definitive rules: Flights open for booking about a year in advance, and the airfare will change often between then and takeoff. So, as a general rule of thumb, you'll want to book plane tickets well in advance, as prices spike sharply in the days preceding the flight, taking advantage of any last-minute travelers who have no choice but to pay up.

But there are many variables that impact the dynamic pricing patterns of plane tickets, including the destination and time of year. In some cases, you can book just a couple of weeks in advance, while in others, you're better off reserving months ahead (such as a trip over a big travel holiday, when demand is high).

Following the pandemic, airfare rose to astonishing highs in 2022. And while airfare will remain high this year, airfare tracking site Hopper predicts it will drop slightly. In its Consumer Travel Index — Q1 2023, the company attributes the high prices to rising costs, surging demand, and constrained supply. 

Nonetheless, good deals can still be found, but they are all about big-picture timing. The bottom line is that scoring the best flight deals can be tricky, but we're here to help you find the best flights for your upcoming travel. Our first tip: Start tracking flight prices as early as possible so you can keep an eye on cost fluctuations. Use Google Flights or Hopper to receive price change notifications about your tracked flights.

Related: The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023

When to Book Flights for Domestic Travel

According to a 2022 study by, on average, the best time to purchase plane tickets for a domestic trip is about 76 days before your departure date. Keep in mind that this is an average — it doesn't mean you should log on exactly 76 days before travel. In fact,'s prime booking window is pretty sprawling: 127 to 21 days in advance, which the company notes is about a month longer than the prime booking window in its 2021 study.

For domestic trips, pricing is elevated when tickets are first released, about a year before the flight. Per, those prices will slowly creep downward, all the way to their lowest point in the prime booking window (again, that's about four months to three weeks before the flight), after which you'll likely see a huge spike in cost for last-minute travel.

When to Book Flights for International Travel

Overall, you're better off booking earlier rather than later for international travel — ideally around six months before your desired flights, per Expedia. But there is some regional variance. determined the prime booking windows for the following destinations:

Canada: 300 days to 3.5 months before departure

Mexico: 4.5 months to 1 month before departure

The Caribbean: 5 months to 1.5 months before departure

Central America: 5 months to 2 months before departure

South America: 4.5 months to 1.5 months before departure

Europe: 6.5 months to 1 month before departure

Africa: 10 months to 2 months before departure

Oceania/South Pacific: 10 to 9.5 months before departure

Asia: 10 months before departure

Middle East: 10 months to just under 2 months before departure

As you can see, booking in advance is always ideal. But the real trick to finding good deals on international airfare is to avoid peak travel times, which include summer and major holidays (don't forget — that includes holidays in your destination, too, not just your own holidays).

When to Book Flights for Summer 2023 Travel

Unfortunately, there aren't many deals to be found for summer flights as that's traditionally one of the most popular times of the year to travel. Both Expedia and Hopper predict airfare to peak in price during the season. In an ideal scenario, you're going to want to book flights for summer travel as soon as possible, ideally at least six months in advance. Expedia and Hopper do note that prices will likely reach their maximum in June and decrease throughout July and August, so look for late-summer travel to find the best deals on airfare.

When to Book Flights for Holiday 2023 Travel

You might think it's a little too soon to be thinking about holiday travel, and generally speaking, you'd be right — the best time to book flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually in September. But it never hurts to get an early start on monitoring flight prices so you can book as soon as you find a price that's right for you.

Now, if you're someone who travels somewhat regularly throughout the year, we have a little hack for you: Consider buying your holiday flights now — or whenever you find a decent deal — but make sure to book a fare that will give you a credit if you cancel (generally speaking, that means don't book basic economy). That way, if prices drop between the time of booking and September, you can cancel your original ticket and use the credit to book the cheaper fare. The only downside is that you'll still have some remaining credit, but you could then use it to treat yourself to a future flight. Just don't let that credit expire!

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