It barely feels like spring in some parts of the country, but make no mistake: The summer travel booking season is upon us.
Summer is the most popular time of the year to travel, with weekends in July even busier for the airlines than the Thanksgiving rush. That means there's a lot of competition for the least expensive airfare -- not to mention prices on hotels.
Here are tips that will help you get the best possible price on a summer vacation:
It's time to shop.
A recent analysis of more than 900 million airfares from CheapAir.com found that on average, the best prices are found about 70 days in advance. For summer, 47 days in advance is the sweet spot. Forty-seven days from today is mid-June, the start of the peak summer travel season.
Be open to a new destination.
Many families find themselves visiting the same place year after year. And while it's important to vacation in a place you know your kids will love, it may not be doing your wallet any favors. Travel app Hipmunk's "Discover" feature lets users scroll through many destinations offering low airfares from their home city. In some cases, users can also explore by theme, such as "Beach" or "Great Nightlife."
Save on a suite.
Summer is prime time for family travel, but more families these days avoid hotels, instead opting for homes with more space. Trouble is, you lose out on the hotel amenities in the process. Enter Suiteness, a hotel booking site focused exclusively on suites and connecting rooms. The site is focused on groups of four or more, and each customer gets access to a concierge to assist in planning other aspects of the stay. The site also promises a refund to customers who find a lower advertised price.
Example: Hawaii: A 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom suite with dining room, furnished lanai and partial ocean view in peak summer travel season for less than $400 per night.