Early Birds Beware: Buying Tickets To Europe Too Far In Advance Could Cost You

Planning a trip abroad? We’ve always been told that buying airfare far in advance was the best way to snag a good deal, but what if we told you that you could purchase significantly lower airfare just two months before your trip? You’d think we’re crazy. But we’re not.

Some travelers have a tendency to book international tickets months and months in advance, but depending on where you’re going, waiting until a month or two before departure could score you the best price.

A new analysis of million of searches made by U.S. travelers on the travel website Kayak found that the average fare for a flight from the U.S. to Europe will vary by $256 from when a ticket is first offered to when the plane actually takes off, Quartz reports.

The cheapest flights from the U.S. to Europe were found just 53 days before departure. The best deal for a flight from the U.S. to Africa was found a mere 33 days before takeoff.

Not all international destinations are so welcoming of short lead times. According to Kayak, flights to South America were cheapest when booked 162 days before the date of departure. By comparison, if you buy those tickets to South America super-early (9-10 months in advance), expect to pay 20% more than you would have if you purchased them around the 5-6 month mark.

If you’re planning to travel to Asia the conventional wisdom of purchasing far in advance still holds true. The best deals on flights were found 270 days, or nine months, before departure.

But don’t wait too long to buy your tickets. Fares jumped significantly during the week of departure. Fares from the U.S. to Europe increase by 15% in the week before departure.

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a US-to-Europe flight more than two months in advance [Quartz]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.