The Best Time To Book a Cheap Trip in 2021

Timing can play a huge role in how much your next trip is going to cost — not only when you travel but when you book your trip.

Money expert Clark Howard says that since he’s resumed traveling in 2021, planes have gone from being mostly empty to full, and airfares have increased accordingly. But, he says, now the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.

“Airlines are seeing real softness; hotels are seeing softness in a lot of places,” Clark says. “Because of the Delta variant, people are canceling travel and not booking travel as you look into the months ahead.”

This trend may be something that certain travelers can take advantage of.

When Should I Book a Trip?

Clark says you should look to book a trip now to take advantage of fall travel deals, but there is a very big condition that comes with it. Because of the global health crisis, you may have some reservations about travel — and that’s OK.

On the other hand, “If you are someone who is not reluctant to go, there is a real opportunity for you,” Clark says.

Business Travel This Fall? Not So Much

“This year when you look at travel that depends on business … that’s not happening,” Clark says. “Big-city hotels and convention center hotels are really wheezing because those business travelers aren’t coming back.”

Although business travel showed signs of recovery earlier in the year, Clark says the Delta variant has pretty much closed the door on any significant rebound in the next few months.

“Business travelers aren’t going to be present this fall,” he says.

Leisure Travel This Fall? Very Much So

“Fall normally is a very good time to travel most years: any type of leisure travel,” Clark says.

What makes this year different is that travel providers, especially airlines and cruise lines, are going to have to respond to the drop in demand by lowering prices for some destinations.

Let’s look at two segments of the travel market to see how this is playing out.

Cheap Airfare

Travelers have been able to keep up demand in places like the Florida beaches, the Caribbean and Mexico, but that’s about it, Clark says.

“I’ve been watching the fare alerts for the services I subscribe to for travel to Europe, and the fares suddenly that are being offered are much lower than the fares that were being offered for fall just a few weeks ago,” he says. 

The reason behind this? “Because people now are reluctant to go,” Clark says.

Here are some free travel tools to plan your trip.

Cruise Lines

“The cruise lines aren’t talking, but I imagine there will be real deals on cruises this fall if you’re into cruises,” Clark says.

Before you book, he advises you to research the cruise line’s refund policy to make sure the company has provisions for either offering customers their money back or crediting them for future travel.

Here’s where you can find deals on last-minute cruises.

Bottom Line

Because airlines and cruise lines have a serious demand issue, now is the time to jump on deals for travel this fall.

If you’ve weighed the risks and have decided that you can travel safely, Clark says you “are going to get great deals now to many places in the world — not necessarily Florida, the Caribbean or Mexico, but everywhere else is pretty much going to be a deal.”

If you plan to travel internationally, make sure you:

Want some more money-saving tips? Find some of the best travel deals at

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