The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

X
Woma walking in London near Big Ben
Maridav | Adobe Stock

How to Travel During Peak Travel Season

Traveling during peak season comes with challenges. The most obvious is the crowds- popular destinations and attractions will be packed, making it difficult to move around freely, enjoy the sights, or get that perfect photo without a stranger photobombing it. With peak season also comes higher prices- from flights, accommodations, and even the price of admission at some attractions. Availability can also be challenging, with hotels and rentals getting booked months in advance and tickets to attractions and events. If you’re lucky enough to get a hotel room and entrance into popular attractions, you’ll have long lines and wait times everywhere: restaurants, attractions, and the airport. 

While traveling to top destinations in the off-season is always smart, that isn’t an option for everyone, thanks to school/work schedules and attractions having seasonal hours. When planning a trip during peak season, there are several things you can do to make the experience less of a hassle. A well-planned peak season trip can create fantastic memories, and it is possible, if you follow these tips, from planning, booking, saving money, and what to do once you are there. 

Planning & Booking

Couple planning a trip with a map and a tablet
Prostock-studio | Adobe Stock

Book Early 

This is the most important thing when planning a trip during peak season. Booking well in advance will save you money and give you the most options. You can book a hotel before they fill up; flights are always cheaper if you book early for peak travel. Booking tickets to attractions will ensure you can get the entrance times you want and that they will not sell out. Research where you are going and see when tickets go on sale. 

Be Flexible

When booking a flight, be flexible. Don’t restrict yourself to a specific day for arrivals/departures. Weekends will likely be the most expensive time to fly, so try to book for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The time of day for your flight is also important. Everyone wants to go out late morning and return with an afternoon flight, so instead, look at super early flights, night flights, and even red eyes. 

Consider Alternatives

Flying into a smaller airport or one slightly further away from your destination could help you save money and give you more options. You may also want to consider booking a hostel or vacation rental. Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular, so booking them early is key, but finding one off the beaten path or not as close to main attractions will help keep costs down and have more availability. 

Also, consider alternative destinations. You may have your heart set on a certain destination, but chances are there is a similar, less crowded alternative. Likewise, if you can snag accommodations at one of the top spots, look for different attractions that may not be as crowded. If you’re in London, maybe skip Buckingham Palace and head to Hampton Court Palace; try Musée d’Orsay versus the Louvre in Paris- anywhere that is a hot tourist spot is sure to have a variety of attractions to choose from that aren’t on the top of everyone’s list, but just as good. 

Saving Money

Close up of a couple planning a trip on a map next to a jar full of cash labeled "travel"
Kittiphan | Adobe Stock

Track Deals

The best way to avoid breaking the bank is to stay on top of pricing trends. Several travel apps and websites provide deals and price tracking for hotels and flights. Sign up for as many deals and price-tracking alerts as you can. That way, you can familiarize yourself with typical prices so that you can quickly snag it when a great deal comes through. Start researching early to be familiar with the trends and know when a real deal comes through. Some attractions may offer deals and sales, so stay on top of those as well; many may have early bird deals for people who book well in advance. 

Embrace Public Transportation (or Walk)

Research the public transportation options of your destination. Trains and buses are almost always cheaper than a ride-share service, taxi, or car rental. Trains will eliminate any traffic headaches, and both options mean you won’t have the stress of navigating unfamiliar streets, which can be a hassle when renting a car. Walking is one of the best options for getting around, even if you are heading somewhere far from your hotel; you can take a train or bus to other parts of the city and walk around from there. 

Seek Free Activities

Almost everywhere has free activities available, especially in the summer, when some attractions, walking tours, and events will be free. Check the schedule of events for the area, and you may find free music, fairs, markets, performances, and art shows taking place. 

Beating the Crowds

If you do snag a great flight deal and hotel, once you are at your destination, crowds will likely be your biggest nuisance. There are ways to navigate the masses who flock to popular destinations. 

Research & Plan

I may be starting to sound like a broken record here, but researching will be your best friend when trying to navigate summer travel.  Figure out when the off-peak hours are for the more popular attractions. Check to see if events are happening (free or paid), and (assuming you aren’t heading to the event) don’t go when the event occurs. Double check nothing is debuting the day you plan on heading there either – you don’t want to find yourself at an amusement park the day a new ride is unveiled or at a museum the first day of a new exhibit. 

Embrace Early Mornings/Evenings

Even though you are on vacation, early mornings are your best friend, so you may have to ditch a lay in if you want to beat the crowds. Getting to attractions right when they open means you can hit the top spots before it gets too busy, be finished by lunch, and head to a less popular attraction for the afternoon. Getting to the beach early means securing a prime spot to set up camp for the day, making late goers envious of your real estate. 

Alternatively, getting to attractions shortly before they are set to close also means less people to navigate through. Some museums even offer free admission after a certain time, so do your research and you may be able to not only score a free or discounted ticket, but fewer people.  Similarly, the beach in the evening is less crowded, and in peak summer months, still warm enough out for a swim. 

Make Reservations

Always book ahead of time whenever possible-whether it be for entrance to an attraction or for meals at a restaurant. Booking sites like Viator will allow you to book tours and tickets well in advance, and even have “skip the line” options like this one in Rome. Sites like OpenTable and Resy let you book tables months in advance at some restaurants. Bonus: it saves you time from trying to find somewhere to eat when you’re hungry. Disney World opens restaurant reservations sixty days in advance, so if you want to eat at some of the more popular restaurants, log in the morning they open, two months before your trip. Most national parks also allow you to make entry reservations ahead of time, which will save time at the entrance. Again, simply doing your research before your trip to find out if reservations are available can save you a lot of time when you are on vacation. 

Explore Lesser-Known Areas

We all want to see the most popular spots in the world, however, many lesser-known areas can be just as breathtaking and/or educational. Take the time to research spots that locals love and tourists may not. Find local facebook groups and ask what are must-see, non-busy spots. A simple google search can also unleash a variety of surprising ideas of where to go off the beaten path. Be open to exploring, too. You may find some of the best hidden gems when you have no agenda or itinerary, and just set off to explore for the day. If a beach is popular, look at beaches within a half mile that might be smaller and less crowded. 

Making the Most of It

Couple taking a selfie at the Colosseum in Rome
Davide Angelini | Adobe Stock

It’s hard not to want to go to some of the worlds most popular destinations- after all, they are popular for a reason. The cultural, historical and entertainment value of some places are too hard to pass up. So, when you inevitably find yourself booking that bucket list trip to Rome, London, Paris or any other sought after destination, try to make the most of it. 

Embrace the Culture

While most tourists head to the “tourist traps” and want to do everything they see on TV/movies/social media, often some of the best experiences can be had by experiencing local customs and traditions. Again, reach out to local social media accounts and follow them to get an idea of what is out there to try. It may be that a hole in the wall restaurant is a local, traditional one that you don’t want to miss. Perhaps a church service is the best way to get a feel for the local traditions, or a local holiday celebration- check out what is going on locally and you may find yourself learning a whole new tradition you never knew existed- for free! 

Pack Light & Smart 

If you pack light for a day out, you’ll have an easier time navigating through the mobs of people on the streets and in lines. If you are laden down with multiple bags, it will make weaving in and out of the sea of people that much more difficult. A backpack will be easiest to handle, along with a simple crossbody bag

Maintain a Positive Attitude 

Swarms of people are almost inevitable at the top destinations in the summer. Once you are there, try to remain patient, stay adaptable, and simply enjoy the unique atmosphere of the new area. Even if you follow all of these tips, waiting in long lines at popular attractions is nearly unavoidable, as well as running into crowds on your way to a less popular attraction within a top location. Just be prepared that it will happen, expect the worst, and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

What are the Top Summer Travel Destinations? 

Cherry blossoms along the Meguro River in Japan
iamdoctoregg | Adobe Stock

According to Google Flights, the top summer destinations in 2024 are: 

  • London
  • Paris
  • Tokyo
  • Rome
  • New York
  • Cancun
  • Orlando
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • Athens

The top National Parks are: 

  • Great Smoky Mountains, Tennesee/North Carolina 
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Zion, Utah
  • Yellowstone, Wyoming/Montana
  • Rocky Mountain, Colorado
  • Yosemite, California
  • Acadia, Maine
  • Grand Teton, Wyoming
  • Joshua Tree, California
  • Olympic NP, Washington

Top Beach Destinations in the U.S:

  • South Beach, Florida
  • Miami Beach, Florida
  • Venice Beach, California
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Newport Beach, California
  • Clearwater Beach, Florida
  • Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
  • Laguna Beach, California
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Please note: these are based on the most hashtags on Instagram, and it is worth noting that these beaches are popular all year round, places like Rockaway Beach in New York, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod Massachusetts and Coney Island in New York are extremely popular for summer vacations. 

You Might Also Like:

Escape to the Florida Keys: Win a 4-Night Vacation, Including Airfare
US Raises Travel Warning for Major European Country
10 Tips to Conquer Your Fear of Solo Travel
The 10 Travel T-Shirts You Need in Your Suitcase
Why You Should Never Pack Your Suitcase on the Bed

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From