Holidays - we dream of them, we look forward to them, but we don’t like the costs that come with them, especially when it’s a popular destination. Here at JFC, we're pretty big on using our paid time off for taking trips around the world - and we've gotten pretty good at booking dirt cheap flights. After all, it's what we do all day.
How cheap are we talking, you ask? Less than $300 round trip for a ticket to Japan from Los Angeles and €10 to Morroco from Brussels. Scoring cheap flights like these may seem like once-in-a-blue-moon luck, but all it takes is knowing the right time to book.
So we've gone ahead and broken down the best times to book by region for you. You might want to bookmark this page for your next trip.
Much like other European destinations, France is at its busiest over summer. Big events like Bastille Day and the Tour de France help push up prices on flights and accommodation in July, which continues into August when the French traditionally take their summer vacation.
You'll want to book those summer trips early, so look out for winter sales in January from most major airlines.
Being the City of Love, however, Paris is busy all year round - not least over holidays like Valentine's Day or Christmas. It's best to look out for sales at the end of summer or around Black Friday to get the best deals here, although the budget airlines will drop fares closer to the time as usual.
From Europe, we also see the best shoulder-season fares to the south of France and Corsica showing up around February/March for travel in May/June or May/June for travel in September/October. Ideal for a bit of celeb spotting at Cannes :-)
Longing to spend the whole summer on a Greek Island is pretty natural if you ask us. Unfortunately, it's what everyone else wants to do too, so you'll have to book peak season flights well in advance.
Winter sales are a good way to do it, but a lot of the smaller islands won't show up there - don't let that put you off, though. Finding cheap fares to Athens is pretty reliable with all major & budget airlines, then you get to island-hop your way to paradise from there. Keep in mind that some islands might also be cheaper to get to by ferry from a larger island with more flights, or even from Turkey or Italy.
Greece actually makes a great year-round destination, so if your vacations are flexible, there's no need to stand in line for hours to visit the Acropolis. It may sound surprising, but Athens itself is great for a bit of festive spirit (without the snow), while Thessaloniki offers fantastic hiking, nature and all the typical Ancient Greek history and amazing food.
It's the number one summer vacation spot for most people, but finding cheap flights to Spain during the peak months can be an absolute nightmare. Coastal cities like Malaga and Barcelona fill up from May to September (particularly during music festivals like Primavera Sound in early June), with nearby resort towns at maximum capacity during July and August.
The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, etc.) are also at their most popular over summer. The Canary Islands, however, are Spain's secret off-season weapon - located off the coast of Morocco, temperatures there sit around 15-20 °C even in mid-winter.
No matter where you're traveling from, the best time to book your summer flights with a flagship carrier will be the winter before your trip. They tend to drop fares on flights around Europe once or twice a year - look out for annual Black Friday and Christmas sales in particular.
For off-peak Spanish trips, the Canaries and cities like Granada and Seville in the south of the mainland are your best bets for year-round warmth. If you're not so worried about heat and just in need of some tapas and culture, city breaks in Madrid, Bilbao or Valencia work at any time of the year. You can comfortably book these a few months in advance, but look out for events like Black Friday promos for the cheapest options.
This one may seem a little niche, but Switzerland is especially popular among hikers, chocolate lovers, and watch fanatics. Naturally, the summer months are most popular with hikers, but you'll also find that events like the Watches and Wonders convention and Basel Carnival in March can bump up airfares and accommodation prices earlier in the year, too.
To get the best summer fares from the USA, you'll want to book early in the year. Look out for winter sales from Star Alliance airlines, particularly since SWISS is a member of the group. You can take advantage of Black Friday sales for low-season trips or hold out for last-minute deals.
Keep in mind that, depending on where you want to visit in Switzerland, you may just as well fly into Milan and make your own way over the border, since it frequently sees bargain fares with cheaper airlines like TAP Air Portugal.
The UK isn't exactly renowned for its amazing weather, so summer tends to be the busiest season for visitors. The country's main international events also happen then, like Wimbledon (June - July) or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August), so you can expect flights and accommodation during this period to be much pricier.
It's best to book summer trips the winter before you want to travel. You'll be able to pick up nice fares in the major airlines' Black Friday and winter sales. Flying into London is likely to work out cheapest for England, while Inverness normally comes up best for Scotland. Pretty convenient if you're into legendary monsters or epic road trips!
No matter where you're coming from, reaching Northern Ireland is easiest when you fly into Dublin and head north either by train or with a hire car. Plus, you can check the Republic of Ireland off the list while you're at it. As for Wales, there aren't many convenient flights in and out of Cardiff, so you're best aiming for London, Birmingham or Bristol then catching a train.
Visiting the UK outside peak summer makes it much easier to pick up a great deal. Late summer into autumn lets you get the best of the weather and avoid the crowds, and flight prices stay pretty stable year-round.
The best time to book a trip to Asia is generally 2-3 months before traveling. Since the best time to book is similar across the regions, let's look at examples in each area: Thailand for Southeast Asia, Japan for East Asia, and the Maldives for South Asia.
Pro-tip: When booking flights to Southeast Asia, be aware of the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Like with most countries, the cheapest city to fly to is the capital - in this case, Bangkok. Booking between 1-5 months in advance will bring the best fares. July, August, and December are the most expensive times to book flights, coinciding with significant public holidays.
Traveling in May, June, and September is the cheapest - meaning that visits to attend various festivities around, for example, King Vajiralongkorn's Birthday, can be done with cheap flights and an extended break!
Phuket's best flight times are nearly identical to Bangkok's in terms of the more expensive months for fares, all pretty much in line with key public holidays. Interestingly, flight prices tend to rise earlier, with bookings needing to be made for more than 2.5 months to secure the best deals. With this in mind, it may well be worth flying into Bangkok and then traveling onwards via public transport if booking closer to your trip.
Japan is a true example of a year-round destination. There's Golden Week and Cherry Blossom season in spring, and in summer, you’ve got a very long list of festivals across the country to put on your itinerary. Autumn/fall foliage season is picture-perfect. And winter calls for skiing, Nenmatsu, and catching the sauna soaking monkeys.
The trick to avoiding crowds during these periods is to avoid popular cities like Tokyo and Osaka. For example, you can enjoy cherry blossoms just as much in Atami and Kakegawa.
The best time to book trips to Japan is 4-6 months from departure. Book earlier if you plan to go during the peak periods or visit tourist favorites like Kyoto and Hiroshima. While we've seen flash sales drop as low as $267 from Los Angeles, waiting until the last minute for the perfect price may bag you a cheap flight, but you'll end up paying more for accommodation.
Although the Maldives has year-round warm weather, the monsoon season can bring about heavy rains - travel between December and April for guaranteed sunshine. If you're going to be scuba diving or lounging in the above water resorts, the perfect time to visit is during the driest month in February.
But, if you want to go shark and manta ray spotting, visiting the southeastern islands during the wet season from May to October is your best bet.
The peak season runs from December to March when most visitors want to get away from the cold of the western hemisphere. As you can probably guess, it's also the most expensive. So if you’re on a budget, book for early May to June - just before the wet season kicks in, and soon after the crowds have left.
Really cheap flights to the Maldives come around once or twice a year - so when you see them, book ASAP. Many airlines and resorts also have last-minute sales during the low season, so we recommend watching for flash deals using Google Flights’ tracker.
Central America and the Caribbean
There are generally two seasons in both regions: the wet/hurricane season, which happens during summer and fall, and the dry season which coincides with winter and spring. Try booking 1.5-3 months before travel to get the cheapest tickets. Also, watch out for festival periods like carnival and jazz festivals, which tend to be more expensive.
Choosing the best time to visit Costa Rica depends on which parts of the country you'll spend the most time in. For rainforests in the central region, December-April (dry season) is best, whereas if you want to visit the beaches on the Caribbean coast, visit in fall.
However, if your plans involve lazing on the beaches of the Caribbean coast - this period tends to see more rainfall - you'll have better luck visiting during September - October.
To save on accommodation, flights and activities, the best time to visit Costa Rica is in the green (aka wet) season, from May-August. The rainfall mainly happens in short bursts during the afternoons - leaving lots of room for exploring in the mornings and evenings.
Deals to Costa Rica are a dime a dozen, and we often see great deals 2 weeks to 3 months before departure.
The peak season in the Dominican Republic is between mid-December and April - when the snowbirds flock in to get away from the cold. So to score these dates at their cheapest - it's best to book as early as possible.
We usually see peak-season deals for DR show up around the previous winter. It's also worth considering having an early holiday in November - mid December when the prices are still reasonable and the holiday crowds haven't arrived.
For more affordable options, visit in the shoulder seasons: May and November. There might still be a few showers here and there, but it's mostly sunshine, and fewer crowds mean lower costs on hotels and activities. You're also more likely to find last-minute deals for these months, but it's still worth booking at least a month early.
June to October is the rainy/hurricane season which peaks in September. Although the last one was in 2004, the island is still on the Caribbean hurricane belt, so you probably want to avoid booking during this time, or at the very least get flexible tickets and travel insurance in case you need to postpone your flight.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago mostly follow the same weather patterns as other islands in the Caribbean. The dry/peak season starts from January to May, and the wet season coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season from June to December. But like a few other islands eg. Bonaire, Curacao, and Saint Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago is outside the hurricane belt.
We often see flash sales across the Caribbean, but the best time for scoring cheap flights would be 3-4 months prior and up to 6 months for carnival.
If you’re planning on visiting Trinidad and Tobago, we've written a local’s guide to help you start planning your trip!
The weather in South America is very different between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This means the best time to book your Machu Picchu trek may be different to a week spent on a Colombian beach. In general, aim for between 1.5 to 4 months before you travel. Below, we go into specifics for some of the most popular destinations.
The best time for budget-friendly travel to Buenos Aires is September to November. The weather's great for eco-tourism, and the lines will be shorter since the holiday crowds are long gone. The next best time is mid-April to June. It's low season, so you'll often find low prices on accommodation around this time.
Things pick back up from December to April, especially for Gualeguaychú carnival in January/February. July tends to attract more tourism due to the Bariloche's snow festival. But a budget-friendly ski trip isn't totally off the table if you visit in June, at the start of winter.
The best time to book tickets is 1-3 months prior for the low season and 3-6 months in advance for peak season. To find the cheapest flights - use aggregators like Skyscanner and Momondo, which round up the best fares from Online Travel agents (OTAs)
Side note: Worried about booking with OTAs? We've written a guide on using OTAs and what scams to be on the lookout for.
Brazil is a huge country, so the best time to visit each city might vary slightly. Let's look at the two most popular cities: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The best time to visit São Paulo is September to November (during spring), you’ll dodge the peak season prices and crowds and still enjoy great weather. Plus, you’ll have lots to do with activities like Restaurant week and Brazil's F1 Grand Prix.
Peak season, on the other hand, runs from December to April. It's the priciest time to visit, but if you book far in advance (up to 12 months prior), it's worth going to experience the 'best carnival in the world.'
The best time to book for low/off seasons is usually two months before, with the best deals generally appearing in July.
Rio de Janeiro
There's always something to do in Rio, and since the weather stays warm year-round, there's not really a bad time to visit. However, like in São Paulo - December to April is the most expensive time to visit due to carnival and holiday spikes. So you'll want to book as far as possible in advance to get reasonable prices for accommodation.
For more budget-friendly prices, visit during the shoulder seasons of mid-April to May and October to November. Deals for these dates usually show up three months in advance.
Ah, Fiji - that far-flung archipelago full of beautiful beaches. If you're trying to chase the sun, you'll want to go during the dry season (between June-September). The best time to book these flights is as early as the winter/spring of the year before. Because this is a pretty rare destination, it doesn't pay to wait.
While November-April is the cheapest time to go, you'll have to deal with a bit of rain. If you're going for the tropical plants and seeing orchids in the wild, though, it's this time of year when the forests are full of life. Be on the lookout in spring/early summer for these low-season tickets.
Outside the two peak seasons (Northern Hemisphere's summer in June-August and Australia's in December-February), festivals and large sporting events, like the Australian Open (Melbourne, January) and Mardi Gras (Sydney, February-March), are also times when you'll see prices for tickets and accommodation rise.
It's also worth noting that if you're looking to head out of the main cities and into the outback, whether it be Far North Queensland (home of the Great Barrier Reef) or Uluru in the Red Center, tickets will be more expensive during Australia's winter (June-August) as travelers want to avoid the intense heat and high humidity/rain of summer.
The best time to book flights for these peak seasons is typically during worldwide sales (usually in the Northern Hemisphere's fall/winter of the year before). But, we may see airlines releasing surprise price drops over the next few months as Australia continues to encourage tourism, post-pandemic.
To dodge the pricier times while enjoying some of Australia's famed sunny days, spring and fall are likely to be the cheapest times to travel. For these tickets, it's probably best to monitor the price for your dates a few months out to see how they fluctuate. Don't wait too long to book though, as tickets will normally peak within a month of your trip.
Flights to Africa generally tend to be expensive. The rule of thumb here is to avoid the peak periods like Christmas, Ramadan, and school holidays.
Pro-tip: Prices are usually cheaper if you don't mind long layovers (9+ hours) or multiple stops. Most African serving airlines, eg. Turkish Airlines, have long layovers in Europe and Dubai, which offer excellent day trips and discounts on layover hotels.
It's also worth aiming for flights with checked bags included in the base price since paying extra can set you back hundreds of dollars.
Knowing when to book a trip to Morocco largely depends on the activities you plan to do. But, in general, the shoulder season is between April to May, and September to November. You’ll get great weather during these periods, and the best prices.
If you're heading to the Atlantic coast to hit up the beaches of Essaouira, Agadir, or Taghazout - the best time to visit is during the summer months of June - August. But, it's also peak tourist season, and these towns tend to attract a lot of crowds, so you'd want to book as early as possible.
If you're just into surfing (and not sunbathing), you can avoid the crowds by visiting in December, when the surf breaks are great, but the weather is a bit chillier.
On the flip side, the best time to visit the Sahara desert is either spring or fall, when the weather is cooler, but not freezing. May-August is extremely hot, with temperatures averaging around 115 °F. The best time to book this trip is 2 - 3 months prior to your trip.
The same dates apply for hiking trips up the Atlas Mountains, except if you plan on visiting Ouikaimeden - the only ski resort in Africa.
South Africa is generally a year-round destination, but the cheapest time to visit is between April and November. The best time to book this trip is usually three months before, but since cheap flights are scarce - we say book as soon as you see a reasonable price.
There are two peak seasons to consider - peak summer in the Southern Hemisphere (December-January) and the US summer holiday (South Africa's winter) in July-August.
During South African summer, the northern regions get thunderstorms, while the coastal cities are hot and sunny. Places like Kwazulu Natal and Kreuger get a bit of both sunshine and rain.
Fall (March-May) is less rainy than summer, and you’ll still get warm days. It's the perfect time for wine enthusiasts to visit The Winelands for the annual harvest festival. It's also a great time to go hiking up Drankesburg Mountain.
Winter (May-September) marks the best time for game spotting at Kreuger and Phina. Spring (September-November) is the best time for whale watching and celebrations like the Durban Blues and Johannesburg/Cape Town food festivals.
Like the other desert spots on our list, the winter period (October-April) is when most travelers will want to head for the pyramids. Keep in mind that because Egypt is a pretty popular destination for Europeans, the Easter holiday break (March-April) is jam-packed, so probably best avoided if you're looking for the cheapest time to book flights.
It's likely you'll find a cheap flight to Cairo and then be able to make your own arrangements on the ground to visit other destinations. You'll usually be able to grab one of these fares in worldwide sales from the likes of Qatar Airways, which usually happen around Black Friday, during winter or around the middle of the year. And occasionally, you might get a cheap, short-notice direct flight from the East Coast out of nowhere - that's where we come in :-)
Being in the desert, it's no surprise that most people want to visit Dubai during the cooler months (November-April). Eid festivals and UAE school holidays (February, May, October) can also be popular times to travel into and around the UAE.
You'll usually need to book your cheap tickets for next year's peak season in the winter/spring beforehand, but it's also not uncommon for budget airlines from the UK or Europe to drop cheap, short-notice tickets throughout the year (sometimes even during peak season).
Many people want to visit coastal cities like Tel Aviv in spring or fall (to avoid the hotter, more humid days) and hillier Jerusalem when warmer (usually between August-October).
You'll likely be able to find cheaper peak-season flights in winter that cover both the spring and summer months.
During Jewish holidays like Passover (around April) and Rosh Hashanah (around September), many Israelis travel abroad, so you'll be able to dodge the most expensive tickets if you avoid traveling during these periods.
Peak summer is a popular time to travel all over the country - from the Turquoise Coast to hot air balloon paradise Cappadocia, and even major cities like Istanbul. Keep in mind that Eid celebrations (this varies by year, typically around May and July) and Turkish school holidays (in Nov, Jan, April) will also be expensive (and busy) times to holiday.
From the US, cheaper summer tickets to larger cities like Istanbul, Ankara (for Cappadocia) and coastal Izmir are likely to come up from winter onwards. You can always catch a cheap domestic flight within Turkey to travel to your final destination.
To avoid the worst of the hefty ticket prices, travel in spring. The day temperatures will be warm enough for you to enjoy inland spots like Cappadocia, while also being the start of the tourist season in coastal cities like Antalya (typically from late April-early May). You'll even be able to take a brisk dip in the Mediterranean!
Mexico is a staple for great beaches, food, and deals. If you don't mind flying with a budget airline, Mexican airlines like Volaris often have solid deals - especially for last-minute trips.
Although prices to each city can vary greatly, flying into the capital - Mexico City or tourist favorites like Cancun, is usually cheaper, and luckily local travel options don't cost a fortune.
The best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons, away from the rainy months in September and October and peak season in December and April.
If you'd like to book during popular periods like spring break and Christmas - keep an eye out for deals 4 to 14 weeks in advance.
The cheapest months to travel to Canada are in October and November. But as a rule of thumb, booking between 1 to 3 three months before departure is a sweet spot. However, you'll want to book further in advance for peak periods like summer and ski season.
Because Canada is such a large country, the weather can vary significantly from coast to coast. For example, spring on the west side ends in February, while high points like Banff see snow up to May. On the other hand, coastline towns like Vancouver see very little snow compared to cities like Montreal, which gets around 75 days of snowfall.
It's best to check the weather report for the city you're visiting beforehand. There are pros and cons for each season, and you'll undoubtedly find a festival happening for all of them, e.g., the Winter Carnival and the Canadian Tulip Festival in spring.
There you have it, our list of best times to book popular cities across the world. It's not rocket science, but finding great deals does take some time and patience or a certain friend named Jack to send all the best deals direct to your inbox.