Summer flights and hotels are expensive. Here’s how you can get ahead of the game and save your vacation from sticker shock – even if you waited until the last minute to book.

Shop early and often when you can for summer flights

Summer travel is no joke. To put yourself in the best position to get the best deals available, you should be as flexible as you can and shop early and often. Here are a few more tips to use to put yourself in the best position.

When flight shopping, do an apples to apples comparison

If you book direct with the airlines, you won’t see the variety of flights we offer on and you can’t mix and match to get the lowest fare available. When you book a flight with us, we’ll show you every possible outbound flight and every possible return. For example, you might find that booking United makes sense to get you to your destination, but Frontier makes sense on the return. Our easy, transparent flight search also shows you everything included on your ticket.

Fly mid-week instead of the weekend

Most Americans like to utilize the weekend for their vacation time. That’s fine, but there’s almost always better value on flights if you can fly mid-week. So even though it might sound good to save your vacation days and just travel on a Friday or Sunday, you can usually save at least a few bucks, and often save quite a bit if you book a Tuesday or Wednesday flight. Consult the calendars on the Summer flights page to see what we mean. The best deals all summer can be found mid-week.

Take the first or last flight of the day

The earliest flights often offer the best value. A lot of people don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn, so those flights often save the traveler a few bucks. As a bonus, the earliest flights are also usually those that leave on time. More about that here.

Late night (or red-eye) summer flights are also less popular, so also tend to be priced lower. Remember that flying very early or very late also mean less people at the airport. It’s a great option for people interested in avoiding the crowds.

Book early for hotels too!

We recommend shopping for hotels and cars in tandem with your flight search. A lot of times people put off the hotel search until after they’ve secured their flights. Don’t do this! We’re hearing from some passengers that they’ve been able to find cheap flights, but the exorbitant cost of a hotel stay makes the whole trip much more expensive than they’d hoped. You should search early and often for hotel stays to make sure you can, in fact, book a reasonably-priced room.

Price Drop Payback gives you a little peace of mind with flight pricing

No other company offers the Price Drop Payback guarantee we do up front. If you book a flight with CheapAir, you get a little built-in insurance. Should a fare go down after you purchased flights, we will cover the difference up to $100. Why is this important? Well, if we advise you to buy early to get the best deal, that allows you a bit of peace of mind. It’s not likely to happen if you’re traveling to popular destinations this summer, but you’re covered if it does.

Buy now pay later for flights

What if you did everything right and still ended up with a pricey ticket? Unfortunately, that’s going to occur this summer – for a lot of people. You can take the edge off that sticker shock by paying with buy now pay later. We partner with Affirm to bring travelers an easy and affordable way to pay for flights and hotels over time each month – so you’re not out of pocket up front for the most expensive part of your trip. And you don’t even have to have a credit card to qualify.

How can I make sure I can rent a car for a reasonable rate?

You need to search early and often for  car rentals – to make sure you can, in fact, book a reasonably-priced car. There are options when it comes to car rentals – both the traditional car rental companies and the carsharing platform Turo.

We hope these tips help you with planning for your trip. Be sure to check out our other summer flights pages as well – Europe Summer Flights, Hawaii and Mexico for more detailed information depending on your destination. And you can always use our Best Time to Buy tool for specific city pairs. Happy summer and happy travels!

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