Best Time To Book Your Next International Flight: Tips and Strategies

happy traveler waiting for the flight in airport, departure terminal, immigration concept.
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Whether you’re planning to country hop around Europe or want to take an African safari, there’s one big rule for any kind of international travel — it pays to plan ahead. Around six months out is traditionally a good threshold to get the best deals, but for some spots, like Asia and the Middle East, it’s ideal to get a jump start around 10 months ahead, according to Travel + Leisure.

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This is especially the case now that everyone is looking to head overseas again. According to CNBC, 2023 will see a big rebound in international travel after the pandemic hampered travel plans for many people over the past three years. According to Hopper, 62% of all flights searched targeting 2023 (as of December 2022) were for international destinations. 

In order to secure the best deals, CheapAir.com put together tips regarding ideal flight shopping windows, and key dates to travel for 10 key destinations. To come up with their suggestions, CheapAir.com looked closely at more than 917 million airfares from every continent. Here are their tips to save the most:

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Canada

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 300 days out, but no less than 3.5 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $47 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and March (avoid July and December).

Mexico

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 4.5 months out but, no less than 1 month before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Wednesdays (saving up to $95 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and September (avoid November and December).

The Caribbean 

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 5 months out, but no less than 1.5 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $79 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: January and February (avoid July and December).

Central America

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 5 months out, but no less than 2 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Wednesdays (saving up to $67 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and May (avoid November and December).

South America

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 4.5 months out, but no less than 1.5 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $75 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February, March and May (avoid July and December).
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Europe

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 6.5 months out, but no less than 1 month before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $121 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and March (avoid June-August).

Africa

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 10 months out, but no less than 2 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $90 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and March (avoid July and December).

Oceania/South Pacific

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 10 months out, but no less than 1.5 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $141 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: October and November (avoid December and January).

Asia

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 10 months out, but no less than 4.5 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Wednesdays (saving up to $286 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and March (avoid July and December).

Middle East

  • Airfare booking timeline: Shop around 10 months out, but no less than 2 months before travel.
  • Best day of the week to fly: Tuesdays (saving up to $96 per ticket).
  • Best months to travel: February and March (avoid July and December).
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Experts from sites like Thrifty Traveler also offer some extra tips for finding the best international deals:

  1. Set up a flight price tracker. Google Flights is a great option, allowing you to set an alert for the exact dates you are looking to travel as well as destination/arrival ports. The app can continually monitor how prices are tracking to let you know when to buy.
  2. Search putting the priority on flights, not dates. Choose the option for “my dates are flexible” when looking for airfare and you’ll see what the best deals are.
  3. Go for Tuesday or Wednesday travel. As you can see above, electing to travel these two days of the week can often (but not always) save you hundreds of dollars per airline ticket.
  4. Avoid the holidays and summer. Airlines know everyone wants to travel for summer and winter break so they jack up prices. Instead choose shoulder seasons like spring and fall to capitalize on savings.
  5. Book one-way trips. If you can’t find the ideal roundtrip option on one airline, look at booking two one-way flights and search more airlines to find more competitive deals.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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