How to Save on Fourth of July Travel

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

Summary:

  • Current prices for July 4th travel are down about $17 (or 4%) compared to the same time last year

  • Avoid the crowds - Las Vegas, Chicago, LA and New York City are the most popular destinations this year

  • Pick a bargain destination - New Orleans, Dallas, Philadelphia and West Palm are among the destinations where you can save most compared to last year

  • Fly mid-week - save almost $40 by flying Tuesday or Wednesday, and depending on your route, it could be much more. Plus the airport is likely to be a lot less crowded in the middle of the week

  • Wait a week - If you don’t have set plans for the holiday, you can save about $30 (or 8%) on flights by delaying your vacation to the following weekend which is only about half as popular

  • Book now - our data shows that the biggest savings on flights for the Fourth will be found at least three weeks in advance

The Fourth of July is simultaneously one of the most popular and one of the most expensive weekends to travel. While driving is a bit cheaper this year due to lower fuel costs, flying is as expensive as ever (we found that flying is only about 4% cheaper this year than last). We analyzed the flight data for Fourth of July and here are some tips to help you save the most on Independence Day flights.

Where To Go

July 4th travel is dominated by weekend getaways to big cities with Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City (multiple airports) topping the list of most popular destinations. It will be harder to score a last-minute deal to these destinations and they will likely be the most crowded.

 Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.28.06 PMTable 1: Most popular domestic destinations for the July 4th weekend

Not all cities are created equal— at least, not when it comes to the availability of cheap airfare. So if you know you want to get away but haven't yet decided where to go, check out these U.S. destinations where airfare prices are actually cheaper than last year.

Anchorage offers the biggest price drop since last year, with average airfare a full $139 cheaper. But if it's summer sun you're after, New Orleans, Dallas, and the popular paradise of West Palm Beach all offer savings of $90 or more on flights. Summer is also shoulder or low season for many of these destinations, so hotel, resort, and attractions discounts are easier to find.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.29.56 PMTable 2: Biggest round-trip price drops amongst the top 100 destinations for the July 4th weekend.

When To Fly

The good news: Your holiday is about to get longer! The bad news: You may have to burn a few more vacation days, with the Fourth falling on a Saturday this year. Flyers can save almost $40 by flying Tuesday or Wednesday — and depending on their route, it could be much more. Plus the airport is likely to be a lot less crowded in the middle of the week.

Surprisingly, the weekend before the Fourth of July is more expensive than the holiday weekend itself. You'll spend $40 more simply to fly a week earlier. So wait until Tuesday or Wednesday before the Fourth.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.32.14 PMTable 3: Average round-trip prices for tickets purchased through June 1st for travel on the weekends on and around July 4th.

No family plans? Nowhere in particular to be? Then push off your vacation for one week! The weekend after the Fourth of July isn't a terribly popular time to travel, which means that travel prices dip. Your flight will be, on average, $35 cheaper if you delay your vacation. You can also expect less-crowded airports and attractions during this relative lull.

When To Buy

We found that the biggest savings on Fourth flights will be found at least three weeks in advance. The average domestic ticket for Fourth of July weekend is about $384 round-trip, but you can expect to pay much more if you wait until the last minute. Prices will continue to rise as the holiday draws near, spiking three weeks before. Like many other holiday weekends, cheap last-minute flights are rare, so book on the sooner side to save.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.34.18 PMFigure 1: Prices tend to rise as the departure date approaches with domestic July 4th air travel rising most sharply in the last three weeks

Figure 1 shows that prices are trending very similarly to last year, on a market-adjusted basis.  Prices begin to rise about six weeks ahead, with a sharper rise starting about three weeks before the July 4th weekend.

Methodology

The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes billions of trips per day.  Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.

Get the Hopper app to find the best deals.
You could save up to 40% on your next flight!