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When’s the best time to book travel? Depends on the continent: 53 days out for Europe, 162 days out for South America, etc.

Flights

That’s a chart based on Kayak — the travel website — analyzing millions of fare searches and ultimate purchases. It shows the best time to book travel from the United States to the continents described in the chart: so, for example, your best bet for a U.S.-to-Europe trip is 53 days before the trip needs to occur. South America? 162 days. Asia? Almost a full year (270 days). Here’s the summary of the findings and here’s the initial post from Kayak.

There are a lot of urban legends about travel, and it’s important, because plane fares do seem to be rising. I used to work with a kid who told me that “airline servers dump over flights” (not sure what that even means) on Tuesdays at 3am, so if you search for a flight on early Tuesday morning at 2:59am, you can get crazy shit like New York to Seattle for $25. The sad thing is, I tried that once — all that happened was I almost booked a $239 NYC-to-Charlotte flight, and I was tired as f*ck at work the next day. To quote Kayak:

Overall, carefully picking your travel dates and how far in advance you purchase can save you money. Contrary to urban legend, the day of the week you book doesn’t make a difference in what you pay. In other words, there’s no noticeable difference between booking on a Tuesday or a Saturday, or any other day.

The other notable thing from Kayak’s data crunching was that it’s easier to go see the City of Rob Ford, apparently (drops in ’12 and ’13):

The Top Three: Unlike 2012, when Toronto was the only city that saw a drop in average airfare (3%) in 2013, many cities saw decreases: Anchorage and San Jose Cabo saw some of the biggest at 10% and 8%, respectively.

San Francisco Sees Huge Drop in Hotel Rates: San Francisco hotel rates dropped 35% in 2013 – a staggering number, especially given the city’s popularity.

Also: searches for flights to Tokyo were up 12 percent — while fares were down as much as 35 percent. If you want to travel in the summer — domestically or internationally — go in August; rates can be 13 percent cheaper as compared to June and July. Also, you can use “Hacker Fares” (a Kayak tool) to determine whether two one-way flights would be more affordable than a round-trip; and of course, there’s always the Bing Price Predictor tool, which I use on the regular and might be the best thing about Bing.

The magic number for booking domestic flights is apparently 49 days, based on a study of 560 million airline fare postings.

Ted Bauer

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