Ah, summertime. A time to jet off on long vacations to exotic islands and sip piña coladas by the beach. Sound unrealistic? Think again. WL got an exclusive interview with Travelocity Senior Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown where we learned some secrets to booking your summer getaway, saving money, and getting some great benefits along the way.
By Kara Landsman
1. People who are on any kind of budget might want to skip the flight all together and drive to their destination because you can eliminate a big cost of your trip and take advantage of low hotel prices.
While airfare prices are quite a bit higher than they were last year, hotel prices are pretty level and in some cases down. It might make sense to save money on airfare and upgrade to a nicer hotel.
2. Higher end hotels don’t want to slash rates because they don’t want to set expectations too low, so they’re doing free night promotions.
The Four Seasons, is doing free night promotions all over the world- sometimes it’s the third night free, sometimes it’s the fourth night free. I just got back from the east coast of South Africa and the airfare was extraordinarily expensive but what made up for it, was a phenomenal offer from the Four Seasons, so it balanced out. You pay for four nights and get three nights free, and get 500 euro in resort credit to spend at restaurants and at the spa, plus free golf and free breakfast- so a lot of freebies. And I think for a high-end traveler that’s where you’re going to find value, not necessarily super low rates but all those extra things. It really brings down the total cost.
3. People who are more in the 4 star range should think about blind booking sites (check out Travelocity’s Top Secret Hotels).
It allows you to get a better price on a hotel because you don’t know the name of the hotel until after you book. You get up to 45% off published rates. It’s not a great idea for every kind of trip, I wouldn’t recommend it for a honeymoon, but if you’re taking a city vacation or a last minute trip it could be a really good idea- when location is more important than the hotel, it saves you a lot of money. It’s a little like a rush, you have no idea where you’ll end up. You get some info, star rating, amenities, customers reviews, just not name of the hotel.
4. Book your flight and hotel at the same time as opposed to booking them separately.
When you book your flight and hotel together, you only see the total price- you don’t know how much the hotel costs versus how much the airline costs. You get to pick everything, the airline, the flight time, the hotel, room category, review, but booking together saves money. It makes traveling easier because if something goes wrong on your trip, you booked everything through one provider so it’s just one phone call.
5. If you can fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, you absolutely should.
They’re the cheapest days of the week to fly because most people don’t want to travel on those days. You’re always going to get a cheaper fare if you can incorporate one or two of those days. It’s also cheaper to take connecting flights. The great thing about DC is that you have 3 major airports; alternate airport searches are worth checking out. The first flight of the day is also usually the cheapest.
6. Carry on, fly on an airline that doesn’t charge.
A lot of people are still shocked when they have to pay a checked bag fee, but that’s the norm. Every other airline [except JetBlue and Southwest] charge $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second bag- I’m constantly amazed at people that don’t know they have to pay for their bags.
7. You can get a last minute deal on a hotel but it’s very difficult to get a last minute deal on airfare.
The airlines cut back on capacity so there’s not many available seats. It makes sense to book airfare in advance. But hotels have an excess of rooms. It also helps to know that the average round trip flight for summer is $360 so if you get something around that it’s not that bad.