While, technically, it may not be autumn quite yet, Labor Day Weekend is behind us. For travelers, that means the arrival of the fall shoulder season full of deals and falling prices.
Savvy travelers know this is nothing new. Airfare and other key travel costs tend to plummet after the busy summer travel season, creating a great opportunity for those looking for affordable getaways.
Kayak reports that domestic flight prices this fall are down 19%, averaging $359 per round trip compared to $444 during the summer. International flight prices, meanwhile, are down 21%, with average airfares coming in around $856 instead of $1,078 at the peak of summer.
According to Expedia data, the average price for domestic plane tickets is falling fastest if you’re heading to the West Coast. Compared to summer prices, flights to Seattle are down a hefty 45%. Tickets to Los Angeles are down 35%, while Portland flights are down 35%, and San Francisco airfare is down 25%. A plane ticket to Chicago costs 20% less, on average, than just a few weeks ago.
Need wheels? According to Kayak data, domestic rental car prices are down 21% for fall, averaging $77 per day compared to $97 per day over the summer. Getting around this fall will be even cheaper overseas.
Eye on Europe
European getaways haven’t been this affordable in decades. The last time the euro fell to parity with the dollar was in 2022, meaning that your travel funds will stretch further than they did a decade ago, a year ago or even a few months ago. Even better, the British pound is currently worth $1.16 U.S., a figure not seen since 1985.
According to Expedia, flights to Barcelona are down 30% compared to summer, while airfare to London has dropped by 20% and tickets to Rome and Paris are down 15% on average.
Kayak found that renting a car outside of the U.S. will cost $70 per day on average compared to $102 in the summer, for a big 31% savings.
Timing is Everything
For those with vacation days to spare, it makes sense to time a trip for when airfares will be at their cheapest. For domestic flights, Expedia Travel found that the week of September 26 will be the sweet spot, with flights nearly 45% cheaper on average compared to summer. For international trips, aim for the week of October 10, when average international ticket prices will be 20% lower than they were in summer.
Still, the most reliable trick to snagging a great price is not waiting until the last minute.
Last month, Google published new insights based on five years worth of Google Flights historical airfare data. For U.S. domestic flights, the study found that prices were usually at their lowest three weeks to two months out, with average prices bottoming out 44 days before departure.
Other top booking sites also endorse the idea that travelers should book at least 21 days in advance of their departure dates. “Prices will be lowest three to six weeks before your trip, rising rapidly in the last three weeks before departure date,” according to analysts at the deal-finding site Hopper.
The upshot: If you’re eyeballing an early October trip, you’d be wise to book now.