Traveling at peak season is highly overrated. Sure, some sites and natural splendors may look (objectively) better and the weather may be (also, objectively) perfect during some months, but that means higher prices, denser crowds and a significantly high chance of getting photobombed.
Fewer travelers means more perks for you too: Unoccupied hotel rooms may lead to free upgrades (just ask!); an empty middle seat on the plane means more free legroom; and group tours can feel more private. Plus, think of all the time you’ll save not waiting in line behind everyone else.
It’s not just a few bucks you’re saving when opting for a less-popular destination. “For typical markets, the average flight price varies 20 to 30 percent between peak and off-peak dates, and in some cases even more,” says Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at the flight deal site Hopper.
You could also be help workers and business owners by visiting during off-season. “Traveling year-round helps safeguard the natural beauty, cultures and communities of the people and places we visit, and keeps them from relying only on a [high season] surge,” Gavin Tollman, CEO of tour company Trafalgar, points out.
To help you find the best cheap flights this summer, Hopper pulled data for FREE on the least expensive destinations in the next five months. Here are five of our favorites:
Average flight price: Currently $202, but look for prices as low as $156 between now and October
The Windy City is known for its extremes of frigid winters and blistering summers. But if you can handle the humidity off Lake Michigan, summer can be the perfect time to take advantage of Chicago’s public parks and beaches (free!), outdoor festivals like Taste of Chicago (cheap!) and Grant Park Music Festival and more availability in air conditioned trendy restaurants and hotels.
Average flight price: Currently $210, but look for prices as low as $156 through October
If rooftop pools, glitzy nightlife and a round of poker are all part of your idea of summer fun, Vegas may become your new hot weather ritual. (Check out this list of other fun Vegas attractions from Thrillist.) If not, the airport is a cheap place to fly into for outdoor adventures to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. Just remember that highs are typically in the hundreds during the summer, so bring sunscreen and a sweatshirt for the falsely freezing hotel lobby.
Average flight price: Currently $220, but look for prices as low as $172 through October
During the hot months, all of Los Angeles has flocked to Palm Springs or vacations abroad Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it sure can feel like it, and that means the City of Angels can be yours at a discount price. The Pacific Ocean and surrounding beaches offer plenty of space to cool off, but if you’re looking for more of a breezy getaway, use LAX as your entry/exit point for a road trip up or down the California Coast.
Average flight price: Currently $365, down 43 percent from peak season from November to April when it’s $635
Enjoy the gorgeous architecture of the Cuban National Ballet school during your visit to Havana. Photo by Michael Marquand / Getty Images
If your heart is in Havana-na-na-na, book a discount ticket to travel to Cuba this summer. Though you’ll need a special visa to enter the island, a little paperwork is always worth it for cheap airfare and the summer trip of a lifetime. Expect it to be hot and humid, but still totally worth it to visit this amazing country. Before you go, makes sure to plan ahead for the best sites to see while you're there. This guide from the Lonely Planet will help point you in the right direction.
Average flight price: Currently $509, compared to $874 during peak winter season
While Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Bolivia all offer steep flight discounts over the summer (think 30 percent or more in savings, compared to other seasons), Colombia is currently the best deal in South America. And once you’ve arrived the country itself is super cheap. Explore city life in Bogota and colonial architecture, coral reefs in coastal Cartagena and El Efe Cafetero in the coffee region. It’ the rainy season during the summer, but pack a poncho and you’ll be fine.
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