5 Tips for Booking a Cheap Winter Vacation This Year
Want to book a sunny vacation to escape the cold this winter, but don’t want to break the bank? Join the club.
Winter is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to stop procrastinating and plan your getaway. While the summer can be the best time to book a winter vacation, it’s not too late. But it’s time to get started.
Follow these tips to save big on your winter getaway this year.
1. Use Google Flights’ Secret Weapon
It’s no secret that Google Flights is the best way to find cheap flights. And if you aren’t picky about where you get your sunshine, its Explore tool can save you hundreds. This is the best way to find cheap flights when you’re not sure where you want to go.
Want to go to the Caribbean, but don’t care which island you end up on? Looking to head south of the Mason-Dixon line for a little sunshine, but are open to several cities? Google Flights Explore is the tool for you.
If you haven’t met Google Flights Explore yet, consider this your formal introduction. Explore allows you to search the entire world map to see which destinations are cheapest. Pick a specific set of dates, or keep it as open as “a weekend in February.” It’s all up to you. Be as specific as “Mexico,” or as broad as “Caribbean.”
Scroll to see which destinations are cheapest. Being open to more than one destination and keeping your dates flexible while you search can save you hundreds.
Ready to become a Google Flights Explore wizard? Check out our full guide to using the Explore tool and start searching for your cheap winter destination.
Thrifty Tip #1: Need some ideas for the cheapest cities to visit? These are some of our favorite affordable tropical destinations!
2. Pick the Right Time
There are several factors that determine which dates will be cheapest to travel. It can feel like a moving target.
But generally speaking, airfare will be cheaper when you choose to depart and return on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. If you can depart and return on these days, you can likely save yourself a chunk of change! Here’s one example:
Let’s say you want to go from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Phoenix (PHX) this January. If you travel Sunday to Sunday, your prices may be in the high $200s to low $300s.
But if you depart and return just two days later on Tuesdays, you can save over $160. That could buy you another roundtrip ticket somewhere!
And now, Google Flights will nudge you to keep an eye out for cheaper dates to save big. You may see suggestions like this one in your Google Flights search to alter your dates:
Thrifty Tip #2: Check out all our tips on the cheapest times to travel to save on your winter getaway.
3. Avoid Holidays…Except for Thanksgiving
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it makes a big difference: holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve are typically the most expensive times to fly during the whole year – both domestically and abroad.
If at all possible, avoid booking your winter getaway during the holidays and save it for a lower season time, like January and February.
If you’re short on PTO and want to travel over a holiday, we don’t blame you! And you’re in luck: The best winter holiday to travel internationally is Thanksgiving. Here’s why Thanksgiving is the best time to head abroad.
4. Book Before You’re Miserable
We know it’s hard to think ahead to the dead of winter, but doing so will pay off big time.
Instead of waiting until it’s mid-January to book a getaway, plan ahead and book your cheap flight to a warm destination now! It’s best to book airfare at least 30-45 days in advance.
When you plan ahead for a winter getaway, you have time to search flexible dates with Google Flights Explore and can even track airfare prices with Google Flights price alerts.
5. Let Us Help!
We find flight deals for a living, and we’re here to help you find your cheap winter getaway! We find cheap international (plus Hawaii, Key West, and Alaska) flight deals to destinations all over the world, but we keep an extra eye on warm-weather destinations during the winter months. Join Thrifty Traveler Premium to get instant notification of the hottest (literally!) flight deals we find, straight to your inbox.
Check out some of the flights you missed out on just this past month, and start daydreaming of your sunny getaway! And don’t worry: it’s not too late to take advantage of the cheap deals we find. We’re still finding half-off flights to tropical destinations from this winter through next fall! Join Premium now so you don’t miss out on the crazy cheap deals we find.
Booking a warm-weather getaway this winter doesn’t have to cost thousands. Use these tips and tricks to save hundreds on your vacation this winter!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.