After studying 1 billion search queries from 2012, booking giant Kayak.com just released new data about travel trends -- everything from the cheapest times to fly to the places where airfares are rising. The findings offer some good guidance for those planning their next getaway.
1. When to Go
First the bad news: Airfares are up across the board. There is, however, one notable exception: Toronto. Our neighbor to the north is actually less expensive to get to than it was this time last year; 3 percent less. Travel in April for shoulder-season prices.
Staying in-country this summer? August is the month to go, when prices drop compared to June and July. Travelers who can wait until September will find even bigger savings, as the average domestic airfare plummets to $269.97. And the added benefit of waiting a few weeks? The crowds disperse as school heads back into session.
2. When to Book
If overcrowded flights and sweaty seatmates aren't appealing, consider skipping summer travel altogether. Fly instead in one of the less popular months to increase your odds of getting a little elbow room and some space to recline.
The study showed that only 5 percent of searchers were interested in flying in January, a mere 6 percent in February, and only 7 percent in September and October. April, November, and December each came in at 8 percent of search queries.
Another bonus to flying in the off-season? February and March had the lowest fares for international travel, hovering around a $950 average. But hold off on booking: 21 to 35 days ahead of departure offers the best rates.
3. Where to go before everyone else does
Some destinations are growing in popularity faster than they're growing in price, and still make for excellent, and excellently priced, getaways.
In the U.S., Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and Denver topped the list of popular destinations in 2012. Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Nashville each saw an increase in visitors in 2012, without the accompanying rate spike that usually accompanies such popularity.
The exception is London. That destination saw a nearly 30 percent increase in fares due to last summer's Olympics. While some of those price hikes will abate in 2013, the U.K. metropolis will always be a more expensive destination, and perfect for those off-season, less expensive (albeit colder) trips.
Whenever an airline enters a new market, it usually runs introductory fare specials. As the airline industry gets more competitive, more and more international carriers are breaking into the U.S. market for more than simply transcontinental landings. Do a little sleuthing on these new-to-you airlines and discover new rates to the same-old places -- or even someplace new to go.4. Check deals at new-to-you airlines
Recently, Mexico-based Aeromar introduced its first international flight to McAllen, Texas. Hawaiian Airlines broke Air New Zealand's lock on its homeland by introducing service to Auckland. And AirTran is now flying from Denver to San Jose del Cabo.
While there are some tips and tricks for avoiding an overly onerous airfare, it will still usually be a major factor in the cost of any getaway. To find savings in other ways, skip expensive hotels in favor of alternative accommodations like home-sharing or house exchanges, use mass transportation and city passes for savings on getting around when available, and minimize the number of meals you eat in restaurants.5. Keep your other travel costs under control
And if all this talk of travel has you itching to go somewhere right now, check out these tips for spring break getaways for grown-ups.
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