Clark Howard

I Need Plane Tickets for an International Trip. Should I Buy Now or Wait?

Who doesn’t want the best deal possible on airfare?

Especially if you're traveling internationally, a round-trip ticket can sometimes rival the price of your monthly rent or mortgage. It's no wonder that so many people want to learn how to find cheap flights.

The challenge is knowing whether you should buy a plane ticket today or wait for an even better deal.

That's what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently wondered.

Should I Buy My International Plane Tickets Now or Wait?

Should I buy my overseas plane tickets now or wait for cheaper prices?

That's the question Clark faced on the Feb. 20 podcast episode.

Asked Pavel in Nevada: "I will be traveling to Prague from Las Vegas in early November. I found a deal for $922 round-trip via Amsterdam. Should I buy or wait? I really like the layovers and much prefer one-stop flights."

Pavel may be able to find tickets for 40% less if he just waits, Clark thinks.

The economy seems to be slowing. Inflation is showing signs of stubbornness. And the average high temperatures in Czech Republic range between 47 and 37 degrees from November through February. The days are short as well, making it a less desirable time to visit.

“It would be much to your advantage to wait for a sale on fall airfares,” Clark says. “November through February is off-peak for fares to Europe. And if you book this far ahead, you’re not getting the advantage of the off-peak fare sales that will occur.

“You should be able to get down to $500, $550 round-trip. Maybe even less for that. If you let the clock run some until there is a sale for the offseason.”

When Will You Find the Best Deals on Airplane Tickets This Year?

Flying to Europe (or perhaps to some other international destination) this winter? Wait at least until May to find a better deal, Clark advises. But you may save even more if you have the patience to hold out until August.

“It could happen as early as early summer. But more likely August would be when you’d see sales that would cover the period from November to February,” Clark says. “And there can be just weird sales that come out of nowhere before that.

“But the most likely time you’ll see a better deal there is going to be the back half of summer. I would wait.”

Clark Encourages Everyone To Consider Traveling

“Revenge travel” is a term coined for the pent-up demand created by COVID-19 restrictions.

Many families canceled vacations, especially international trips, for at least a few years.

Count Clark as one of the people who has gone all out on travel since restrictions lifted and it became plausible to do so. And he thinks that late summer and early fall will offer some terrific discounted rates on airplane tickets.

“If you have not traveled in a long while and you’ve got the funds to do so, gosh, there’s a whole wonderful world out there,” Clark says. “Being able to travel is the greatest experience of my life other than my family.

“There are going to be so many deals as we move through 2023. Take advantage of them. Go somewhere. Have fun.”

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to know whether today’s airfare rates will be better than what you’ll see tomorrow.

To make your best educated guess, you may need to subscribe to emails from our favorite travel sites, watching for deals to your preferred destination. You may have to log prices every week (or day) and continually search for rates on Google and other travel sites.

However, Clark thinks that the trend will be your friend if you can wait another four to six months.

Some of the best prices for plane tickets in 2023 may materialize between July and September.

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