Flying can be a really herdlike and stressful experience, especially if you usually lose your temper when surrounded by crowds. Thousands of people flock to airports every day, eager to get their vacation started, crisscrossing the skies in aircraft. Truth is, almost everybody seems to be able to afford to travel by plane nowadays, and booking a “quiet” or “relaxed” flight is an almost impossible feat unless you own a private jet. If that’s your case…well, good for you! If not, you have to think twice about traveling during major seasonal holidays if you want to avoid the masses. We don’t have to tell you that, for example, flights from New York to Texas right before Thanksgiving are going to be WAY more packed (and expensive!) than those departing on February 18th, right?

But sometimes it’s not that easy to find the least hectic moment to get through the airport and on to your flight. So, is there really a way to know when is the least busy day to fly? Well, not really. But don’t panic. We’ve come up with a handy guide to not only pick the perfect day to travel…but also the month and even the hour! Just follow these common-sense tips to avoid those pesky crowds while saving big bucks in the process.

Least Busy Months

First things first: which month do you intend to fly? Even if your dates are flexible, you should already have a good idea of which month is best for you. Family vacation to Aspen? Road trip to the beach? Maybe a solo expedition abroad? Regardless of your destination, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll dodge the biggest crowds if you stay clear of high-demand seasons like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Be also aware of booking during Spring Break season (end of February to April), since traveling to sunny destinations like Florida may inadvertently invoke hordes of crazed, semi-drunk teenagers eager to get the party started several thousand feet from the ground.

The key, then, is easy: just avoid major holidays (we’re looking at you, Memorial Day Weekend!). Booking flights for the second half of January, the first days of February, early May, and most of September and October are your best choices when flying within the US. However, this can’t always be applied to international destinations, since every country has its own national holidays and festivals that might attract unexpected crowds. So don’t rush; take your time to learn if there’s something big going on at your foreign destination during the period you’d like to be there. Good examples of this are the soccer Champions League if you fly to Europe or Rio’s Carnival if you visit Brazil.

Finally, summer — and this might surprise you — is also a tricky period when it comes to avoiding too many travelers. How come? Well, although booking flights between June and August what a lot of folks like to do, turns out that, in many countries, these months are considered low-season…which means they don’t receive many visitors (due primarily to the weather). Now you might think it’s not very appealing to visit your dream destination during treacherous storms or freezing temperatures. But you don’t have to go there when the climate is at its worst. Many people travel to exotic countries such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Australia, or New Zealand during what’s called “shoulder season” — months between high and low seasons when prices are more affordable and the weather is not that terrible.

Least Busy Days

Both travel experts and frequent flyers usually agree on this: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to fly. Why, you might ask? Well, it just makes sense when you think about it. Flying on weekdays tends to be a drag since you’ll most likely have to ask for some days off at work, consequently using up your precious, hard-earned vacation days. Since nobody likes that, it’s easy to think that you’re not going to deal with many people at airports and on board flights. According to one of the most well-known myths in the airline industry, booking flight deals on Tuesdays at midnight is always a good choice. Although this affirmation has been frequently disputed by some studies, it’s always worth a try!

Of course, if you’re not into crowds at all you should try to avoid weekends as much as possible, especially Sundays. Everybody wants to make the most out of their last-minute weekend trip, and that always means busy airports and packed planes. Just take in mind that, in order to escape this issue, many people prefer to start work on Monday mornings or spend most of that day at home and get back to the office on Tuesday in a better mood. Mondays, therefore, are kind of a wild card: even if they are not supposed to be busy days when flying, they totally can be.

You may also like: 10 Tips for Stress-Free Travel During the Thanksgiving Holiday

Least Busy Hours

Hour-wise, there’s a rule of thumb you just can’t ignore: the earlier your flight, the less crowded it will be. Sometimes, the hardest part of your whole trip is waking up at 6 am to be in time at the airport for that cheap and peaceful 8 am flight. Nobody likes to sacrifice their precious sleep, and that’s why finding big crowds early in the morning (6-9 am) is highly unlikely. It’s a struggle to get up in the wee hours of the morning, yes, but it usually pays off. You know what they say…early bird gets the worm!

Another unpopular option is booking late-night flight deals. Even if some people don’t mind (and even enjoy) sleeping in-flight, many others just can’t get their shut-eye when on a plane. That’s why you might find fewer people boarding during these hours.

As you see, finding the least busy day to fly (as well as the month and the hour) might be a challenge. These tips, hopefully, will make your life easier when it comes to embarking on that long-awaited trip without having to share it with huge groups of tourists.

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About The Author

Javier Peinado
Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.