When it comes to booking travel, it seems as though everyone has an opinion about when exactly the best day to book a flight is, how far in advance you need to plan, and what sites to use when you actually put together your travel itinerary. Some swear Tuesday is the best day to buy, while others only book on Sundays; some book flights at the last minute, while others meticulously plan; and some use under-the-radar insider travel sites, while others stick to a simple search of Google Flights for the best deals.
While it may be difficult to pin down exactly what the best methods for booking travel are, there are certain trends and tips that you can count on to help you sleep soundly on any flight knowing you found the best deal possible. Ahead learn a few theories about the best day to book a flight, as well as how far in advance to do so and which sites to use. Consider this your guide for booking smarter.
What Day to Book
Travel booking site Expedia, along with Airlines Reporting Corporation, first identified a new trend in travel hacks back in 2016. The report called "Preparing for Takeoff: Air travel outlook for 2016," revealed surprising details about the best time of the week to book a flight.
According to Business Insider, previous reports have shown Tuesday to be the best day, but this data showed "on average, weekends now provide the best opportunity for finding great price deals." Why? The study found weekend searches yield cheaper flights because it's when most leisure travelers purchase tickets.
Two years later, the 2018 annual report released by Expedia and the ARC backs up this finding, proving that Sunday is still the best day of the week to book a flight for the best deal possible. However, don't completely discount the benefit of booking on a Tuesday just yet, as the weekday still trails close behind Sunday. Whatever you do, don't book on a Friday, as the study found that this was the most expensive day of the week to buy a plane ticket.
When to Book
Now that you know when the best day to book a flight is, you'll also need to know how far in advance to purchase your ticket to get the best price. According to travel site CheapAir's 2018 Airfare Study, the best time to book a domestic flight in the U.S. is about 70 days before your departure date. The study analyzed 917,000 airfares to identify a prime booking window of the times when flights are the cheapest. As for international travel, the best time to book depends on each region and varies from as little as 66 days to as many as 199 days before departure.
Where to Book
While most avid travelers have their own preferred methods of finding cheap travel, travel experts at the Points Guy have determined a few of the best places to book flights online. Their go-to travel sites include ITA Matrix, Airfare Watchdog, Google Flights, @The FlightDeal (via Twitter), and FlyerTalk. ITA Matrix is actually a software used by many popular airline websites. You can use it to track down the best flight, but you'll still have to book through another site like Expedia or Priceline. Airfare Watchdog lets you compare multiple sites to find the best deals and can alert you by email if a flight you've had your eye on drops in price. Google Flights is powered by ITA Matrix software, making it a quick and easy way to locate great deals on flights to any destination. Follow @TheFlightDeal on Twitter to stay up to date on fares for last-minute journeys or visit its website for more detailed information. Finally, utilize FlyerTalk forums for insider tips on where to nab the best deals on flights from dedicated frequent flyers.
Armed with this insider information, you'll be able to find the best deals on flights to any destination you can dream up. Plan in advance and spend your Sundays scouring under-the-radar travel sites to score cheap flights to anywhere. Happy travels.
This post was originally published on January 16, 2016, and has since been updated.