5 Hot Tips for Scoring Cheap Summer Trips in 2018

by Published | Updated

Start planning now to guarantee cheap summer trips in 2018

A lot of students that travel over the summer take advantage of their extended break and go on a multi-week adventure. Want the numbers to back that up? 18 percent of students are traveling for 15-21 days and 15 percent for 22-30 days this summer alone.

cheap summer trips in 2018

When you're balling on a student budget, the last thing you need is something that's going to wipe out your entire bank account or leave you in the red come fall (you'll need some extra for football games and PSL come September!). That's why we've put together this handy article outlining EVERYTHING you need for grabbing your squad and coordinating your own cheap summer trips this year.

Whether you already have plans to study or intern abroad this summer and you’re just looking for ways to score a cheap flight OR you're new to the 2018 trip planning game, read on, we’ve got you! 

The most popular destinations for summer 2018-2019 travel

Let’s start with the hot spots for summer ‘18 and ‘19. The following are the most popular destinations students are traveling to this summer (in order of popularity broken down by region). While many of these locations were top spots for summer ‘16 as well, there are three new cities on the list this year— Lisbon, Reykjavik, and Toronto.

If you haven’t already started your “wanderlust wish list,” these international cities can be your first additions. From sun-drenched city streets littered with museums, shops, and cafes, to the cool mountain tops, waterfalls, and outdoor adventure dream destinations, this list runs the gambit for every kind of traveler. 

girl using laptop searching for cheap trips
Snatch these deals fast in popular student travel destinations in 2018

And guess what? There’s a great summer program for you to embark on in each locale. JACKPOT!


  • London, Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin, Madrid, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Athens, Milan, Frankfurt

The Americas

  • Toronto, Chicago, San Jose, Mexico City, Lima


  • Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Delhi, Chengdu

With all of these incredible destinations to choose from, the hardest task of planning your entire summer travels might just be picking one! 🤔

[Get travel program recommendations in AMAZING—yet cheap—destinations]

5 most effective ways to score the best summer flight deals

So, how do you get YOUR desktop or smart phone to display the best summer flight deal? Here are a few tips to help you score summer flight deals without wasting your time: 

1. Use flexible search.

If you aren’t tied to leaving on a specific day, using a flexible search feature will help you determine which days you can leave/return to get the cheapest fares. Sometimes you can save a considerable amount of money just by leaving a day or two later (avoiding peak travel days of the week or dates) than the dates you may have been searching for. The flexible search feature will help you visualize this so you can make the best decision for your schedule and wallet! 

2. Set fare alerts. 

Not seeing a price you like today? Set a fare alert and get updates when the price drops so you can book with confidence that you are getting a great deal. 

young man with white t-shirt and black backpack sitting on a wall overlooking town
Now you just need to learn how to say “See you later!” in the local language.

3. Fly into smaller airports. 

In order to score the best deals, it’s often best to arrive in a smaller, less popular airports. For example, if you were traveling to Europe— think Barcelona, Venice, Amsterdam, Milan, Budapest. Travel within Europe is so cheap that in some cases, it may be cheaper to fly into an airport further from where you are traveling and take a train or bus into the city you are visiting. This is definitely something to consider as you price out different options and itineraries.

According to a recent survey StudentUniverse conducted of nearly 5k students, 60 percent stated that they would be willing to fly into a less-convenient airport to save money, and another 15 percent said they would be more willing to fly into a less-convenient airport than they would be to take a stop when direct flights were available. For 70 percent of the students, saving between $50-$100 would be enough to justify doing so. 

4.  Buy early.

If you are reading this post and you haven’t booked a trip for the Summer yet, you might be in the 21 percent of Summer travelers who purchase their tickets within 31-60 days of travel. While it is generally advantageous to book at least two to four months early for the best deals, we do see a lot of domestic flights within the U.S. cheapest at the last minute. So take advantage of procrastination and look for a cheap, last minute flight to explore a new corner of the U.S.! 

5. Keep at it.

Don't do a quick search and then throw in the towel, calling it quits and relinquishing yourself to another summer filled with your dad's bad jokes and your mom's constant reminders to help with laundry. You can do this! Adjust your timeline, have back up destination options, and hit the booking engines off peak-periods. 

4 top destinations for cheap summer trips in 2018-2019

One of the best tricks for scoring a cheap summer flight is knowing what locations are most inexpensive to get to. You can use this as a rough projection to start planning for summer 2018-2019. Round-trip flights starting from $182? No, this is not a dream!

Here are the cheap summer trips you’ve been looking for:

1. Staying in North America? U.S. to Canada or Mexico for under $200.

Say HOLA to low cost airfare to Mexico + a meaningful adventure!

Canada is the cheapest international destination from the U.S. for the summer - New York to Montreal is $182 round-trip and to Toronto is $192 round-trip. This is likely the reason Toronto earned itself a spot on the top 25 destinations list at #19 after not being in the top 25 last year.

The cheapest flight to Mexico last summer was Chicago to Mexico City for $312. This year, you can get to Mexico for under $200! San Diego to San Jose Cabo is $199, Chicago to Mexico City is $221, Houston to Cancun is $221, Houston to Mexico City is $226. 

[Volunteer & change lives with IVHQ in Mexico this summer]

2. Visit the Caribbean Off-Peak. 

We thought we had it good when we had prices to the Caribbean for under $300 last year, but this year you can get to the Western Caribbean (Miami to the Grand Cayman Islands) for $207!

There are myriad ways to add a serious dose of "meaningful" to your cheap summer travels in our neighborhood tropical paradise. You can volunteer with conservation projects (save the sea turtles!), contribute to ongoing efforts for disaster relief since the region was pounded with hurricanes in late 2017, or even sign up for internships and language programs. Awesome, huh?

Fort Lauderdale to Nassau is $231, Fort Lauderdale to Aruba is $250, Miami to San Juan costs $242, and New York to Bermuda costsi $305.

[Psychology internships in Jamaica, anyone?]

3. Europe from $342!

woman sitting on edge of a cliff looking over water in sunshine
With fares as low as these, you have no excuse not to embark on your next grand adventure.

Round-trip Europe flights last summer starting at $590 were a steal, but this year, round-trip flights are in the mid-$300s. WHAT!? With so many cheap lodging options in Europe and easy travel between countries (bless you, Eurail), it's no wonder that 42 percent of summer trips departing from the U.S. and headed internationally are headed for Europe!

Reykjavik is on the list of the top 25 summer travel destinations for 2017 (at #13 as a new addition to the list this year) and it makes sense. Reykjavik is one of the cheapest places you can get to this summer from the U.S. Flights from Chicago to Reykjavik are $370 round-trip.

Similarly, Lisbon is on the top 25 list this year at #8 after not even making it in the top 25 last summer. The cheapest flights we are seeing to get there are out of Boston for $443 round-trip.

Generally, arriving in smaller, less popular airports can help keep fares down, and we certainly saw that this year! The cheapest fare to Europe for summer travel is from New York to Shannon for $342. Flights in to Dublin, Copenhagen, Venice, Stockholm, Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Brussels were also among the least expensive, all under $400 round-trip.

[This is your summer to study in Spain with CISabroad!]

4. Japan is the cheapest Asia destination to get to this summer. 

view out airplane window onto wing with blue sky and clouds
Take the stress out of paying for your airfare with these great tips.

Want to head to Asia this Summer? Head to Nagoya, Japan from San Diego for $427 - it’s the cheapest place to travel to in Asia this Summer.

Prefer to hit the major cities? You can get to Beijing from Seattle for $454 roundtrip (36 percent cheaper than last Summer) or Tokyo from Honolulu for $481 roundtrip (35 percent cheaper than last Summer). The travel boom in Asia/SE Asia doesn’t seem to be letting up with 37 percent of travelers going abroad this Summer heading to the region.

[Learn Japanese in Japan & Konnichiwa your way to GREATNESS!]

Remember to travel meaningfully 👌

It’s not all about data and percentages and the best deals. Finances are always a factor into travel plans, but remember that your goal is not just to go at the lowest possible cost to you. Ultimately, you want to travel with a purpose. You want to get the most out of your time abroad (without spending more than a pretty penny), and leave a little piece of yourself with your host country. 

These tips for planning cheap summer trips in 2018-2019 from StudentUniverse will help you travel both meaningfully and affordably. 

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