Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plan Early, Reserve Early, Buy Early

Neither we nor anyone else can know what will happen in the way of airfares, car-rental rates, or hotel availability for this coming summer travel season. But judging by $100-a-barrel oil and by some planning and reservations we’re making for ourselves, we might suggest you plan early, reserve early, and buy early.

It seems like airfares can only continue to rise – except for the occasional fare sale, it’s hard to imagine fares going down. As for lodging, over the last couple of years we’ve been making more reservations in advance – usually the first day or two at each location. But as we’re beginning to plan a September trip to Europe, we’re being told by property owners that places are already getting booked nearly full. Car reservations are generally almost always available, but if you’re price sensitive, shop around, book early (reservations are cancelable at no charge), and then keep an eye on rates as your trip gets closer. (We’ve found some of the best car-rental rates through airline partner offers on the airlines’ websites.)

Obviously, for short-notice or business travel, you’ll simply have to take what’s out there. But for big vacations, we can only reiterate: Plan early, reserve early, buy early.

Not much possibility of that any more.