The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is one of the most popular periods of the year for travel. According to Expedia® data, the average trip duration in the summer is two times longer than the rest of the year, meaning travelers are looking for their dollars to stretch even further for airfare and lodging.
Expedia analyzed summer travel trends to help travelers save money and time as they plan and book their biggest vacation of the year. The data shows August is the cheapest month for airfare and that Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day are the busiest weekends of the year for rental cars.
"Summer is a uniquely busy travel period as it sees every kind of traveler, from honeymooners to recent grads," says John Morrey, SVP Brand Expedia. "Even though each of these travelers has a different type of experience in mind, they're all similar in that they want to find the best value possible for their budget. At Expedia we're in a unique position to analyze the millions of searches and bookings we see each year to provide insights and advice to help every summer traveler maximize their vacation time."
Planning Tips: When to Book and When to Go
Regardless of your destination, one of the biggest money-saving considerations when it comes to summer getaways may come down to timing. According to 2017 flight data, August was the cheapest month for airfare, with average ticket prices around $100 less than in June. Based on historical pricing, these are the two-week timeframes to hit or miss:
- Most expensive weeks to fly: June 26 - July 2
- Cheapest weeks to fly: August 21 - September 3
Bonus booking tip: Expedia's annual Air Travel Outlook report found that, in general, the best rates can be found when booking at least 30 days in advance, a sound strategy to implement for summer travel as well.
Summer Holidays: What You Need to Know
Building a vacation around Memorial Day, July 4th or Labor Day can be a smart way to take advantage of office and school closures, but increased costs and crowds can be a factor for people traveling over the holidays. Looking at last year, Expedia found that rental car demand peaks on the Fridays ahead of these holidays, so travelers should aim to reserve their vehicles one to two weeks in advance to lock in rates and availability. The highest rates were paid by those who booked cars more than 60 days out, ranging from around 20 to 40 percent more than average last summer.
The holidays don't have to come with a higher price tag. These road trip-worthy destinations were cheaper on these dates last year, making them worth a look this summer:
- Baton Rouge - average daily hotel rates down around 35 percent
- Chicago - average daily hotel rates down 20 percent
- Sarasota - average daily hotel rates down 15 percent
- Philadelphia - average daily hotel rates down nearly 15 percent
- Naples - average daily hotel rates down more than 10 percent
- Pittsburg - average daily hotel rates down more than 20 percent
- Clearwater - average daily hotel rates down 15 percent
- Ann Arbor - average daily hotel rates down almost 15 percent
- San Jose - average daily hotel rates down 10 percent
- San Antonio - average daily hotel rates down nearly 10 percent
- Austin - average daily hotel rates down 15 percent
- Charleston - average daily hotel rates down nearly 15 percent
- Baltimore - average daily hotel rates down nearly 15 percent
- Atlantic City - average daily hotel rates down more than 10 percent
- Minneapolis - average daily hotel rates down nearly 10 percent
Bonus booking tip: Package savings aren't just for flight and hotel bundles - in fact, 40 percent of people who book car and hotel at the same time end up getting the car rental for free. On average, savings amount to 15 percent off.
Cheapest Flights from the U.S.
Finally, a list for people who just need to get out of town and don't want to break the bank to do it. Based on Expedia flight data, these are the cheapest places to fly during summer:
- Fort Lauderdale
- Myrtle Beach
- Las Vegas
- West Palm Beach
For more inspiration, tips and insights, check out our 2018 Summer Vacation Planner on the Expedia Viewfinder blog.