Spring Break is here, and Tampa Bay beaches are busy with visitors flocking here from all over the nation and the world. With all the apps and sites saying they have the perfect price, you might be wondering, if you didn’t make plans, is it too late?
Sally French works as a travel writer for NerdWallet. The organization helps people make financial decisions like finding the best credit cards for travel or everyday purchases. They also conduct surveys about travel and spending.
French said this Spring Break will be bigger than ever, and unfortunately, it could mean higher travel costs.
“There’s going to be huge demand for travel which in turn means prices are going to increase,” French said. “People should be ready to pay more not just because of high demand but also because of high inflation,” she added.
French said there are not as many last-minute flight deals, but there are hotel and rental car deals out there. She recommended booking when you see a good price but make sure you can cancel, preferably without paying upfront. If it gets cheaper, she said to cancel and rebook.
She also said if you can adjust your trip even slightly, it can pay off big time.
“You figure if you can save $800 by shifting your trip by one day, you might have to pay for one extra night in a hotel, but that’s less than what you saved, and now you have one extra day of vacation,” French added.
French said hotels are typically cheaper the longer you wait, which is the opposite of flights.
“NerdWallet looked at more than 2500 hotel room rates and found that 66% of the time it is cheaper to book a hotel room 15 days out versus four months out. So, by and large, booking last minute almost always results in a deal,” she elaborated.
Managing Editor Clint Henderson from ThePointsGuy.com also said his biggest tip is to track flight prices on Google.
“What happens is you’ll put in dates, and Google will send you an email when prices drop and when prices jump. So you can keep an eye on flights you want to take. For example, I live in New York, and I go to California for Christmas, and I have a google Alert set up so I can see if prices drop dramatically, I can grab those tickets even as far out as Christmas time,” he added.
With one rule of thumb: “If you see a deal jump on it because it will go fast,” he said with urgency.
Henderson did say prices tend to be higher now than we saw pre-pandemic.
“People are like, ‘I want to travel, and I don’t care what it costs,’ and that’s driving up the cost and being met with reduced capacity at airlines and hotels, driving prices higher,” he explained.
Overall, both experts said Spring Break is a tricky time to book since kids are only off from school for a set week. However, summer travel is a longer window. While last-minute deals are possible to come by, both Henderson and French said booking in advance will typically get you the best deal overall when you add in all the extras that come with a trip. Unless you have an ultra-flexible schedule and are truly open to all destinations.
“Traveling in 2023 is going to be huge, so you might as well lock in those reservations,” French elaborated.
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