[This article was written by Anastassia Evlanova, and first appeared in valuepenguin.sg] Planning a budget-friendly trip can be difficult due to the many factors that can suddenly affect airfare and hotel prices. Read on to find out when to book your next vacation to get the most savings.

Getting a great deal on your holiday is difficult, especially when airlines and hotels seemingly change their pricing at whim. Conventional wisdom maintains that the best time to book your trip is around 2-3 months in advance—however, is this always the case?

Also, does travelling during Singapore’s long weekends cost more? To get to the answers, we examined hotel and airfare pricing for some of the most popular holiday destinations for Singaporeans to find out the best time to book your vacation.

Book Your Flight Early, But Be Aware of the Consequences

Our data found that airfare for almost all of the destinations is cheaper when you book 3-6 months before departure. Not only that, last minute bookers will end up paying over 2.5x as much for a roundtrip ticket for regional destinations (Bali, Bangkok), around 80% more for further destinations in Asia and up to 25% more for destinations in Europe compared to those who book 3-6 months out.

This graph shows the average cost of airfare purchased a week before travel compared to airfare purchased 6 months before travel

However, booking your trip very far in advance can also have its own drawbacks. For example, airlines will sometimes have flash sales closer to your departure date as they try to reduce inventory and fill as many seats as possible. Additionally, booking too far out in advance may be risky since you never know what can happen in the future.

In the past year, we saw a number of events that have severely affected travellers who had their trip planned out months in advance, whether it was the volcano eruption in Bali or the sudden closure of beaches in Thailand and the Philippines. While travellers affected by these types of events were fully covered by their travel insurance, those who encounter other non-emergency medical, political or climate related events will have to bear the full cost of cancellation even if they purchased travel insurance in advance.

No Need to Book Hotels 3 Months in Advance

In contrast to flights, it seems that hotel bookings don’t change much in price even for the earlybirds who are willing to book early for great deals. Our research found that hotels have more predictable pricing schemes than airlines and either maintain similar pricing year-round or change their prices slightly depending on the popularity of the season.

In most cases, you can expect prices to increase up to around 20-35% during peak tourist seasons. For instance, the average hotel price in Tokyo in June is around S$191, whereas the fall season (mid-november)—which is second in popularity only to cherry blossom season—has an average hotel price of S$231.

This graph shows the difference in pricing per night between booking a hotel last minute as opposed to 6 months in advance

So When Is the Best Time to Book Your Trip?

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete formula that can help you make sure you book the at lowest price possible. However, there are some guidelines that may help you save up to S$400 on your next trip. First, booking in advance is definitely your best bet for saving money on airfare. You should aim to book a trip between 3 and 6 months and try to avoid flying during Singapore’s long weekends if you are flying regionally.

Additionally, consider alternatives to peak tourist seasons at your destination and stay at less tourist-trodden cities. This will not only help save you money, but also give you an opportunity to explore a city that you may otherwise have never experienced.


[This article was written by Anastassia Evlanova, and appeared on valuepenguin.sg. You can see the original article here]

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