Summer Steals & Travel Deals

ask-amyIn tonight’s Ask Amy segment, we told you how to find some of the best travel deals for your summer vacation. Who knew the cheapest way to buy airline tickets is by calling the airline at 12:01am Wednesday morning?

I’m no expert, but I found an excellent deal recently that has me brushing up on my French.eiffel-tower

Oui est la vc?

That means “Where is the bathroom?”

My husband and I booked a 6 day/ 5 night vacation to Paris for $1500 total. That includes the airfare and hotel for both of us. He found the deal on Orbitz at about 3am on a Sunday morning. By the time the sun came up, the price had jumped by $300.

Other good sites you should add to your favorites:

www.lastminute.com

www.expedia.com

www.travelocity.com

www.priceline.com

www.qixo.com

www.hotwire.com

www.kayak.com

www.cheapoair.com

www.cheaptickets.com

 We also checked in with Frommer’s Travel for this Q &A:

Q: What are some of the best/cheapest destination deals you’ve seen available this summer?

A: We’ve been tracking cheap destinations for a while, especially comparing the strength of the dollar against foreign currencies to find those places where you can get more bang for your buck. Eastern European countries not tied to the euro are better bargains than euro-based destinations, so consider Poland, Croatia, Hungary or Romania for alternatives to the long-running favorites like Paris or Rome (although the dollar has gained strength against the euro, making these destinations more affordable than they were last year).

Even farther afield both Australia and New Zealand are affordable destinations on the ground once you get over the hurdle of airfares, although we’ve been reporting fare sales below $600 rt from the US west coast to Syndey and Auckland – those are shockingly low fares.

Closer to home, Americans can head either north to Canada or south to Mexico, the Caribbean and most points in South America. Again, the strengthening of the dollar has made most destinations cheaper for American travelers – you just have to have the money to spend to take advantage of the dollar’s value.

Of course, traveling within the US can always be an affordable vacation – especially if you rely upon our often-undervisited national parks. Yes, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone parks will be packed in the summer, but lesser known parks like Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California are real bargains and don’t see the amount of traffic you’d see at the more popular parks.

Q: What are the trends you’re seeing? Lower airfares? Cheaper hotels? Etc.

A: Both airfares and hotel rates have dropped compared to last year. A good microcosm for viewing this trend is Hawaii tourism: occupancy rates in February were the worst the state has seen in 18 years, falling below 75% for the month. Hotels have all this extra inventory they need to move, so they’re discounting nightly rates like never before. In the past month and a half, there were a handful of airfare sales to Hawaii with round-trip base fares under $400 – and that was from not only the west coast, but Chicago and the NYC as well.

Also, we’re seeing travelers searching for other ways to travel affordably, like RVing (see comments on gas prices below) or using alternate accommodations like house swapping and vacation rental homes.

Q: What’s cheaper now that used to be too expensive in the past?

A: Hands down, it’s gasoline. Plummeting oil prices have once again made the road trip more appealing to American travelers. Instead of paying for airfare (one of the biggest costs of any vacation), families are loading the kids into the car and driving to (relatively) nearby destinations for vacations.

Q: What’s the #1 best U.S. deal you’ve seen for this summer?

A: There’s no such thing as the #1 best deal, since everyone travels differently and has different desires for their vacations.

That being said, we’re continuing to see an unprecedented wave of discount cruise itineraries – sometimes as low as $50 a day (before taxes, of course). And packages are a great way to save money. “Packages” refers to bundling two or more travel components together and offering them more cheaply than if you both each component separately – the most common is the air-and-hotel package. For example, we just reported on one such package to Cairo that includes airfare out of NYC and 5-nights’ accommodations starting from $899 (http://www.frommers.com/articles/5935.html).

Did you find a great deal? Share your travel tips and websites by posting a comment.

 

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One Response

  1. After boucing around from site to site, I basically found the same airline fees when I hit the airlines directly. Granted, that was on a recent trip to Houston (not quite Paris), but I didn’t have to worry about reading any of the fine print on booking fees, etc. I knew exactly what I was getting and selected my seats on the flights. I did, however, find that Hotwire offered me the best rental car deal – about $4-5 less a day than all the others (also with no hidden fees).

    Amy – have fun in Paris! Be sure to post some pics. Maybe you can get a good shot of Joel dancing around the Eiffel Tower. 🙂

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