The United States is famous for many of its workers getting limited vacation time, so a one-week vacation to a resort area is by far the most popular option. And with most people having weekends off, it means that the majority hope to start their trips on Friday evening or Saturday morning, and return the following Saturday or Sunday.
One obvious problem this brings up is that the flights on these weekend days get booked up first, and fares for those last few seats can get very expensive. For those with unlimited cash it’s not a problem, but for the rest of us it’s worth trying to work around this to get the most from our holiday funds.
Book early if you insist on weekends
The privilege of turning 5 days off work into a 8 or 9-day trip is so tempting that it’s worth even paying more for many people. But the best strategy if you do want to fly on the most popular days is to book at least 2 months in advance. The conventional wisdom is that flights are cheapest from 6 to 7 weeks before the outbound, but for resort areas it’s probably closer to 10 weeks.
For last minute bookings, experiment with flight dates before looking at hotels
So let’s say you are thinking about going to Puerto Plata or Ocho Rios in two or three weeks. The hotel prices don’t change much regardless of which day you arrive, so the trick is to just search for a cheap flight first and then look for hotels once you’ve chosen dates.
You’ll find that a US$600 fare on a Saturday might be only US$350 if you fly on Tuesdays instead. Usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly to or from resort areas, and Mondays and Thursdays are next cheapest.
In resort areas, every day is a weekend
When we are in our normal working mode we often get focused on Friday and Saturday nights as being the “fun” parts of the week, and the following mornings when we can sleep in and then have a huge breakfast. So when we plan a resort holiday it’s easy to want to be there on the weekends so we have the best time possible.
But of course once you arrive you realize that every day is exactly the same. Every night feels like Friday night and every morning feels like Saturday morning. Everyone there is on vacation so it’s just one big party. Don’t even worry about being there on actual weekends because it doesn’t matter.
A few destinations only have a few flights a week
While Tuesday flights are usually the cheapest, for some destinations there are no flights on those days at all. For example, to Central America, especially in the low season, there might only be flights 3 or 4 days per week. A place like Belize or even the resort islands off Panama are only accessible certain days, so obviously you’ll want to research those before making any other plans.