Finding Cheap Flights for Long Weekend Trips

Looking for a nice, long-weekend  jaunt – or if overdrawn on vacation time – a short-but-fun trip? Have we got tips for you.

Listen as travel expert Rick Seaney serves up more tips for money-saving weekend getaways:

Find cheap flights right now

When to Shop

There are two methods of weekend getaway shopping: the smart way and the procrastinator’s way. Let’s review.

Smart way to shop:

  • Purchase tickets between 3 months and about 2 weeks before departure
  • Makes time to peruse the Deals Blog for upcoming specials
  • Can investigate potentially cheaper routes to a variety of airports

Pitfalls of Procrastination:

  • May pay significantly higher prices normally paid by last-minute business travelers
  • May find last-minute deals (see Deals Blog) but these are often limited to just a few destinations

Tip: Don’t put this off – the money you save can be better spent on your mini-vacation.

When to Fly

Here are three of the better options for weekend trip scenarios, from least expensive to not-so-cheap.

Cheapest option: Depart Wednesday and return Tuesday. This is long enough to be considered an actual vacation.

Next cheapest option: Depart early Saturday (or late evening on Friday) and return Tuesday. A nice long weekend that only involves taking a couple of days off work.

More expensive option: Depart Friday and return Sunday. This is the automatic choice for many weekend shoppers but airlines know these are popular travel days and raise prices accordingly.

Tip: The cheapest days of the week to fly are typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Saturdays. The most expensive days to fly are usually Fridays and Sundays.

Where to Go

Deals vary by routes but look for deals on popular hub-to-hub flights such as Los Angeles-San Francisco, Dallas-Houston, New York-Boston.

Tip: Also see Rick Seaney’s Cheapest Destinations for Summer which gives a region-by-region breakdown on cheapest cities.

Find the Cheapest Flight and Other Tips to Save

Shop Tuesdays: This is the cheapest day to shop for airfare; by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, most airfare sales are available to you.

Connect: If you can afford the time in the air, choose connecting flights over non-stops since they can save you as much as 60% on airfare.

Red-eyes: Look for overnights to your destination; the difference in price could make it worth the inconvenience.

No checked-luggage: It’s just a weekend trip. No need to pack everything you own. Use a carry-on bag to avoid the fees.*

*Just remember that Spirit and Frontier (for some passengers) now have carry-on bag fees.

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Published: May 23, 2013