While fares won’t remain this high after the peak season is over, if you are still hoping to get a summer vacation you can find deals if you are flexible. Check out these tips...
I have a friend who wanted to take a summer vacation with his wife and 10 year old daughter. His daughter wanted to go to the beach and he wanted to go to San Diego and stay at a 4-star hotel. The problem with San Diego in the summertime is that airfares are sky high and so are hotel rates at Coronado Beach. I told him to save the trip to San Diego for the fall, because the weather will still be nice and the vacation prices will be much more reasonable.
Since his daughter wanted a beach vacation, I suggested a trip to Florida because we have been seeing great fares from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale. I was able to find a package for $600 per person for three people with roundtrip air to Fort Lauderdale and a full week long stay at the 4-star Westin Resort on the beach in Hollywood, Florida.
When my friend heard the price, he was happy to swap out his California vacation for a trip to Florida, especially since he would save a total of $2,000 by going to Florida. In addition to the beach at his hotel, he can go to Little Havana in Miami, South Beach, visit the zoo or go to the Everglades. He could also take a day trip up to Orlando to go to Disney and if he didn’t want to make the drive back on the same day he could pay for a hotel in Orlando and still end up way ahead of the California vacation cost.
As an added tip, if you love fresh garlic crabs, you need to visit one of my favorite hole-in-the-walls called the Rustic Inn, which is only five minutes from the Fort Lauderdale Airport.
If you are trying to take a vacation before summer ends, look for cheap airfares and build your vacation around that. If you see a cheap fare, price vacation packages and you could save a bundle like we did in the scenario above.
If you can wait to take a trip in late August or especially in September and October, we will not only see fares drop by $100-$150 roundtrip over July airfares, but we will also see additional days of the week that have cheap seats. This summer, the cheapest days to travel have mostly been Tuesday and Wednesday, but once summer ends we will likely see select airfare sales that offer cheap seats every day but Fridays and Sundays.
Late summer and early fall can bring bargains because travel plummets to most destinations. A friend who does airline pricing for a major airline once said that the load factors to Mexico in September were so low that he wished he could just cancel all of his flights to Mexico for that month. Those low load factors mean the airlines have to drop their fares, so Mexico is a great destination to look at for a fall vacation. The Caribbean and Central America also offer great fares starting sometime after August 15 through the fall.
If you want to treat yourself to first class, we’ve been seeing some great fares from Dallas to the Caribbean. You could fly to Montego Bay, San Juan or St. Thomas for around $700 roundtrip, including taxes and fees. By comparison, if you wanted to fly to New York in first class, you’d pay $2,200 roundtrip. If you’ve been thinking about Europe, fall is a great time to go, with cooler weather and festivals. Fares will drop by $300 to $500 to destinations like Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, London, Barcelona, Madrid, etc. Thanksgiving is also a great time to go because Europeans don’t celebrate it, so you don’t have the competition for seats that drives up the cost during Christmas, New Year’s and summer. Just remember, if it reads family travel, which includes travel from mid-June to the end of August, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Spring Break from March until the end of April, you can just add the word premium to your tickets. If you want to cut your costs by up to half of peak season rates, you can travel in between those premium periods, like in the fall, the two weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the week after New Year’s Day. By the way, if you remember our story last month about buying gift cards at Kroger for fuel savings, you should know that I like to practice what I preach. I recently saved $2 off per gallon with that deal and paid only 98 cents a gallon when I filled up my tank. If you are planning a driving vacation, or you want to save on gas around town, Kroger is offering up to $2 off gas through September 30 and you can read about the deal in the Dallas Morning News archives. (Tom Thumb has also matched the $2 off deal, but Kroger has more gas stations outside of Dallas/Fort Worth and in many states east of Texas.) You can still earn double points on your gift card purchases, so if you are heading to Disney, flying on Southwest, staying at a Marriott, doing a home improvement project, or dining about town, buy gift cards for those businesses at either Kroger or Tom Thumb and save on gas when you use your bonus points.
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