Travel deals for the rest of 2022 are starting to trickle in. But in some situations, get them while you can because the window of opportunity can close quickly. Here’s a compilation of the best deals and suggestions ConsumerAffairs has found for anyone thinking of going somewhere.
Is this your last chance to save on plane tickets?
For vacationers, time is running out! So say the folks at Hopper, the airline ticket booking app. If you don’t book by Oct. 20, Hopper says airfares could go up as the number of available seats begins to dwindle.
According to Hopper’s Last Chance to Save report, this holiday season is shaping up to be costly – with Christmas airfares higher than in the past five years and Thanksgiving prices set to peak at more than 450 $ at the last minute.
Holiday air fares have come down in recent weeks. However, these deals won’t last long. Hopper experts say mid-October is the perfect time to book holiday trips – when prices are low and deals are still available to many top destinations.
How are holiday prices changing? Hopper shared this information with ConsumerAffairs.
- Thanksgiving: Domestic airfares for Thanksgiving currently average $290 round-trip, which is in line with 2019 prices but up 24% from last year.
Airfares will increase by $10 per day from late October through Thanksgiving; peaking at over $450 for last-minute tickets.
- Christmas: Domestic Christmas air fares average $430 round-trip this week, up 17% from 2019 and 53% from last year.
Flight prices will slowly increase through November, before climbing to $10 a day from mid-November through the holidays; peaking at over $580 for last-minute airfares.
Don’t nap on cruise deals
For travelers looking to take a break from the impending chill of fall and winter, they can treat themselves to their own vacation treat with a short 2, 3, or 4-night cruise for the price of one-way.
This is especially true at Royal Caribbean, which recently offered rates of $89 per person for the first two weeks of November and December. And, obviously, time really is of the essence if you want a cruise before the start of 2023.
The key to finding a hard-to-believe cruise fare is to jump on it when cruises pass their final payment date, which is 90 days before departure.
“When Royal Caribbean passes the final payment point, they have a good idea of how a cruise is booked (or unbooked) and reacts accordingly to fill the rest of the ship,” wrote cruise blogger Matt Hochberg.
When ConsumerAffairs reviewed some of Royal Caribbean’s peer cruise lines, others were also running flash sales and hard-to-beat fares for the rest of the year. For example, we have seen deep price cuts at Celebrity (save up to 75% + free drinks and Wi-Fi) and Norwegian ($82 a night with an open bar).
Airbnb versus hotels
Airbnb appears to have the US advantage in the UpgradedPoints study and a considerable portion of the foreign advantage in the Price4Limo study. There are a few differences overseas where hotels have a slight savings advantage – mainly in Asia and Australia, but hotels in Dublin and Madrid also have a savings advantage for travelers to Europe.
Price4Limo analysts said renting an entire house can be a good deal if a family is vacationing together. A real example they did was San Francisco, where renting an entire home through Airbnb is only 5.4% more expensive than the average Airbnb listing in San Francisco (including entire homes, single rooms, list of hotels, etc.).
The rental car situation is improving – and may be a better deal than flying
Time is also of the essence when it comes to finding a good deal on rental cars. Ludwig Schoenack, co-founder of Kyte – a company that hand-delivers rental cars across the United States – including on college campuses – told ConsumerAffairs that most car rental companies offer early booking offers that customers can take advantage of as soon as they know what their holiday travel plans are.
“Prices generally increase the closer your travel dates are. When it comes to vacations, it’s best to plan for early fall,” Schoenack said.
One suggestion Schoenack made that travelers might not consider, but could save them some extra money, is opting out of supplemental insurance.
“Insurance is an important step and the product of its own risk appetite, but be sure not to duplicate coverage if you are already covered. This is a common mistake that travelers make,” he added.
One thing many consumers might not weigh is renting a car or hopping on a plane to use as vacation transportation.
“Flights are best when you’re traveling to a city where you don’t need a car on arrival – but more often than not, a car on the ground can help make the trip smoother, especially if you’re not familiar with the landscape, even in dense cities,” Schoenack said.
He made another point about travelers who like to explore. Cars are particularly convenient because they provide flexibility during a trip, such as if someone wants to stop at a certain park or attraction between their starting point and their destination.
A car rental can also have an advantage for students that mom and dad want home for the holidays. For example, students who go to school in the Boston area and want to travel to Sarasota, where the family gathers for Thanksgiving, must pay almost $300 more for airfare the two days before Thanksgiving Thursday.
Comparatively, renting a car might be a much better deal, especially if there are a few other students heading in the same direction who are willing to split the cost.
The rising value of the US dollar against the euro
Since 2002, the US dollar has not performed well against the euro, but it has beaten the euro, albeit slightly, so far.
When published, a dollar was worth $1.03 against the euro – basically an incredibly easy way to calculate tit for tat, dollar vs euro.
“With the strength of the dollar against the euro, Americans will see nearly 15% off their purchases compared to the same period last year,” said ThePointsGuy’s Melissa Klurman.
“This means that once you get to Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, or any other city in the 19-nation European Union, you’ll be able to shop without running conversion charts in your head or worrying about markup embedded on everything. . .”
Fly “anywhere” and save big
There’s a little-known feature of Google Flights that’s a powerful tool for people who search a lot to go somewhere they may have never been.
In Google Flights” “Explore” modeyou can choose your departure city and when you want to go there (i.e. a week-long trip within the next 6 months), then let Google Flights do its thing and find you ultra-low fares when you scroll from one continent to another.
For example, when departing from Nashville to go “somewhere/anywhere” over the next six months, there were return fares to Lisbon for $536, London for $675, Maui for $475, and Seattle for $175.
Moving west, ConsumerAffairs found Denver residents can travel to Machu Picchu for $577, Miami for $77, Paris for $544, and Sydney for $1,022 — with this trip for less. half the price it would be if you went there on the first of November.
Remember: a deal is not always a deal
When researching travel deals, keep in mind that there are hidden fees and fine print that can bite you at the end of the process.
Airlines companies: The White House is on the fee transparency case with the airlines, but nothing has officially changed yet. Until each fare is crystal clear, make sure you understand which fares are refundable, what you’ll pay for seats, baggage, position in the boarding line, etc.
Hotels and vacation rentals: Hotels may try to impose “resort fees”, so when you book online, go through every page you click on because, as Forbes discovered in a recent perspective how Expedia works hotel fees, the prices you see upfront may not be the price you pay at the end. Another smart move if you see a good room rate is to call the hotel and ask if there will be any additional charges when you check out.
A recent concern that arose was to travelers who expressed dissatisfaction with Airbnb policies that prevented them from canceling their reservations in Florida during Hurricane Ian, so take a little extra time to travel both Airbnb and by Vrbo policies on situations like this so that you are not surprised.
To its credit, an Airbnb spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs that the company’s site now has a search filter specifically for listings with flexible cancellation policies. “Guests who have booked accommodations with these types of policies can cancel through this policy and receive a full refund,” the spokesperson said.
Car rental: Rentalcars.com warns that car rental companies are notorious for high-selling and sleight of hand. Make sure you understand how all of this – fuel policies, mileage limits, insurance – will impact your wallet.
The bottom line?
The bottom line is that a “deal” isn’t always a “deal”. Yes, it’s a pain, but read the fine print, look for text that is smaller than the rest of the text on a page and lighter in color, make calls, use a service’s online chat system, anything you can do to make sure you understand everything that will be billed to your credit card.
And keep track of emails, chats, receipts, and any documents you can get your hands on, because if there’s ever a question, you’ll have evidence to back up your claim.