January 13, 2017 4:40 pm
Updated: January 13, 2017 4:49 pm

Best time to buy and when to fly to land cheap travel deals

WATCH ABOVE: Where are the cheapest places for Canadians to fly? (Hint: not in Canada)

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Timing is everything when it comes to landing the best travel deals.

Anyone who’s searched for cheap tickets knows flight prices can fluctuate — a lot. So to help you figure out when’s the best time to book flights and to fly, Cheapflights.ca has done some serious number crunching.

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Analysts at the trip-booking company pored over 4.5 million flight searches from departure points across Canada to its top 20 destinations. The team was able to use the data to pinpoint peak travel times for each travel spot, and the cheapest windows to book and fly.

“The biggest takeaway is time of year is more important than time of day,” explained Jess Hopper, an editor at Cheapflights Canada, who wrote up the final report.

“The best thing you can do for your bank account is to plan months in advance.”

READ MORE: Don’t buy tickets on a Friday and other flight-booking tips

For the most part, it looks like booking anywhere from three to five months before your trip is the sweet spot. However, depending on the destination, great deals can be found even a week or two ahead of time.

In general, you can expect to have better luck with last-minute deals to resorts than to big cities like Vancouver or Los Angeles.

Of course there are exceptions. Cuba, for instance, is more expensive in the summer than in December, which is usually a peak travel time everywhere else.

The best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a getaway in the not-so-distant future, according to the Cheapflights data, would be a Valentine’s Day trip to Paris. You might also be able to score a sweet deal to Orlando for the end of January. Or an inexpensive trip to Thailand in four to five weeks time.

READ MORE: Top 17 trips to take in 2017

Here’s a closer look at the best booking and travel times to the 20 places Canadians most frequently fly:

1. Toronto

  • Best time to book: 5 months before your trip, or the last week of September
  • Best time to fly: last week of February
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 3rd week of January for summer travel (the Canada Day long week is the priciest); last week of June for the Christmas holidays
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 3-4 weeks ahead of a trip in the last 2 weeks of August

2. Manila, Philippines

  • Best time to book: 4.5 months before your trip, or the last week of May
  • Best time to fly: first 2 weeks of September
  • When to buy for peak season travel: last 2 weeks of June for December travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 1st week of September for a trip in the 3rd week of October

3. London, England

  • Best time to book: 4 months + one week before your trip, or mid-April
  • Best time to fly: 2nd week of May
  • When to buy for peak season travel: mid-January for summer travel (the last week of June and first week of July is the priciest); last week of August for December travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: mid-to-late August for a trip in the first 2 weeks of September

4. Vancouver

  • Best time to book: 5 months before your trip, mid-August, or early January
  • Best time to fly: mid-January to early February, or the 1st week of April (for spring skiing)
  • When to buy for peak season travel: mid-to-late February for summer travel; mid-April for a trip specifically in the 3rd week of July; 1st week of July for travel in the last 2 weeks of December
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 3rd week of March for a trip in the 2nd week of June

5. New York City

  • Best time to book: 5 months before your trip, or the 1st week of August
  • Best time to fly: 2nd week of January
  • When to buy for peak season travel: mid-June or August for a mid-to-late December flight
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 1st 2 weeks of June for a trip in the 2nd or 3rd week of September

6. Paris, France

  • Best time to book: 3.5 months before your trip, or between late May and early June
  • Best time to fly: last week of September
  • When to buy for peak season travel: February for a trip in either the last week of June or 1st week of July (the last week of July and 1st week of August are the priciest); or the 2nd week of July/early August for a trip between Christmas and New Year’s
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 3rd week of January for travel in the first 2 weeks of February (a perfect Valentine’s Day trip)

7. Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Best time to book: 4.5-5 months before your trip, or between late August to early September
  • Best time to fly: mid-January to mid-February
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 1st week of July for a trip between Christmas and New Year’s
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: week before Christmas for a trip in the 1st week of January

8. Orlando, Florida

  • Best time to book: 3.5 months before your trip, or the 3rd week of April
  • Best time to fly: end of May to early June
  • When to buy for peak season travel: end of November for a spring break trip; 3rd week of July for flights between Christmas and New Year’s
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: last 10 days of August for the 2nd and 3rd weeks of September; or mid-January for the last week of January

9. Bangkok, Thailand

  • Best time to book: 4.5 months before your trip, or mid-September to early October
  • Best time to fly: 4th week of November (but the whole month is a bargain)
  • When to buy for peak season travel: end of June for travel in mid-December; 1st week of October for early-December; 2nd-4th weeks of February for summer travel between mid-June to end of July
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 4-5 weeks ahead of a trip in the first weeks of December and January

10. Calgary

  • Best time to book: 4 months before your trip, or early October
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of February
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 1st 2 weeks of February for either the last 2 weeks of July and 1st week of August; mid-to-late July for Christmas travel; end of August for the week before New Year’s Eve
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 1st week of July for a trip in the last week of that month; mid-April for the 2nd week of June

11. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • Best time to book: 3.5 months, or late February to early March
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of April
  • When to buy for peak season travel: early-to-mid July for late December travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: late December for the 1st half of January

12. Los Angeles, California

  • Best time to book: 5 months before your trip, or mid-January
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of May
  • When to buy for peak season travel: late-February to early-March for travel in late-July to early-August, or late June to early July for December travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: mid-November for travel in the last 2 weeks of January

13. Cancun, Mexico

  • Best time to book: 1-2 weeks or 3 months before your trip
  • Best time to fly: last 2 weeks of October
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 1st week of August for a mid-to-late December trip; early-to-mid March or the 3rd week of June for an August trip
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: last days of January for a trip in the first week of February; first week of December for a last-minute getaway

14. Montreal

  • Best time to book: 5 months before your trip, or the 1st week of September
  • Best time to fly: last week of January
  • When to buy for peak season travel: late January for a trip in late-July; mid-February for travel in early-August; 1st week of July or August for December travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: late March for a trip in late May

15. Beijing, China

  • Best time to book: 4 months before your trip, or mid-September
  • Best time to fly: November
  • When to buy for peak season travel: late December to early January for a trip in the last 3 weeks of June; early August for the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: last week of August for the 3rd week of September; November for a trip that same month (just make sure to give yourself enough time to get a travel visa)

16. Miami, Florida

  • Best time to book: 4.5 months before your trip, or the 4th week of March
  • Best time to fly: last week of April
  • When to buy for peak season travel: mid-July to the last two weeks of December
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: mid-to-late October for the 2nd and 3rd weeks of January

17. San Francisco, California

  • Best time to book: 4.5 months before your trip, or mid-January
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of April
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 3rd week of February for a trip in the last 2 weeks of July; 2nd week of August for late December
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 2nd week of April for a trip in the 1st week of June

18. Edmonton

  • Best time to book: 4.5 months before your trip, or the 2nd week of February
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of June
  • When to buy for peak season travel: mid-February for travel in the 1st and 3rd weeks in July; 3rd week of May for a trip in the 2nd week of July; for Christmas travel: the 2nd week of July or the 1st week of October
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: late July for travel in the 2nd week of September

19. San Jose, Costa Rica

  • Best time to book: 3.5 months before your trip, or late August
  • Best time to fly: 3rd week in September
  • When to buy for peak season travel: early June for travel in late December
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: mid-to-late March for a trip in the last week of March

20. Varadero, Cuba

  • Best time to book: 4 months before your trip, or the 1st week of December
  • Best time to fly: 1st week of March
  • When to buy for peak season travel: 3rd week of October for pre-Christmas travel
  • When you can score the best last-minute deals: 1st half of March for travel in the 3rd week of March

For more travel tips for the destinations, check out Cheapflights.ca. You can also see Kayak’s “travel hacker” advice on the best times to book by clicking here.

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