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A look ahead at summer travel

Experts expect less leisure travel, though road trips are on the increase.

An RV on Highway 1 along the central

An RV on Highway 1 along the central coast of California. More Americans will be taking road trips this summer, according to a recent study. Photo Credit: Alamy / Scott Wilson

What can you expect from this year's summer travel season?

Fewer travelers, for one. MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing and research company, projects a significant slowdown in overall leisure travel this year. The decrease could affect the summer season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

"Travelers are saying that they are likely to travel less in the next six months," says Craig Compagnone, MMGY Global's chief operating officer.

Priceline.com, a discount travel website, has found that airlines and hotels are doing their best to entice travelers by keeping fares and rates low for as long as they can. (Prices normally rise as you get closer to summer.) For the Fourth of July weekend, for example, your cutoff is 16 days before the holiday. Travelers who wait too long to book a flight will pay, on average, 42 percent more.

You can also save money on airfares by avoiding the busiest times. Those include the days before the major holidays, but also busy days of the week, according to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com.

"In the summer, flying during certain weekdays is almost always going to give you better prices than will flying on the weekend," Klee says. "Across the board, the best fares are found on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the highest fares on Sundays."

And if you postpone your flight until the first or second week in September, you'll often find dramatic drops in ticket prices, sometimes as much as half of what you might pay in July, he adds. "Even waiting until the second half of August will provide savings to most popular summer destinations, both international and domestic."

While travel overall was down, road travel was up. MMGY's study found that 51 percent of Americans took at least one road trip in the last year, an increase from 46 percent in 2017.

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