May 30, 2012— -- Hotel prices are up. Airfare is up. But if you regard staycation as a dirty word, how can you beat higher prices and still travel this summer?
It's easy – if you know when, and, when not, to go.
Online travel agency Travelocity analyzed two years of booking data for ABC News to find out which weekends were the cheapest – and most expensive – to fly.
Bad news for those with plans this upcoming weekend: The most expensive weekend of the summer to travel is coming up on June 1-3, likely due to Memorial Day weekend travelers who turned the extra day off into a longer vacation, said Courtney Scott, senior editor for Travelocity.
"Many travelers take advantage of their three-day Memorial Day weekend and turn it into an extended vacation, making this week into next weekend popular travel periods, which could account for a rise in fares," she said.
The average round-trip airfare for both domestic and international flights is $661 for the upcoming weekend, $63 higher than the cheapest weekend of the summer to fly: August 24-26.
That's good news for travelers who've not yet booked summer vacations, as there's still time to book vacations on the cheapest weekend for summer travel. The weekend before Labor Day weekend, which this year falls on August 24-26, is historically the cheapest of the summer for airfare, at $598 round-trip.
"There's a dip in prices in late August as kids are busy getting ready to go back to school and many schools in the South are already in session. Labor Day we'll see a spike in fares again as families work in one more getaway before the school season is in full swing," said Scott.
Lissa Poirot, editor of FamilyVacationCritic.com, said a recent survey conducted by the site found that 41 percent of families had not yet made travel plans.
"Over the past few years, many families postponed plans to take a family vacation due to financial restraints," she said. "To stay within budget, many families are watching for last-minute deals and keeping an eye on gas prices before finalizing plans. Families are also becoming more savvy when it comes to finding travel deals, and keeping their options open and dates flexible to find the largest savings."
Most experts, however, caution against waiting for last-minute deals. As airlines have cut back on capacity, empty seats -- and last-minute price slashes on those seats – are all but a thing of the past. Being flexible on your destination and focusing on the hotel for savings are ways to make a trip affordable. And with gas prices continuing to decline as airfare is on the rise, a driving vacation may make financial sense.
So what about those families who can't travel August 24-26? There are still some weekends that are better than others. The cheapest weekend in June is 22 - 24 and the cheapest in July is 20 – 22.
Not surprisingly, the weekends sandwiching the Fourth of July – a Wednesday this year – are some of the priciest of the summer.