The last few months have turned our industry upside down and, like many of you, we’ve expected to see rock-bottom prices for hotels and vacations or even fare wars between airlines driving prices down even further. While we can’t predict the future, we’ve found that (at least for now) only part of this is true, so we’re passing along some of our favorite tips and travel trends we’re seeing right now.
Generally, airfares are going up
We’ve sent you some seriously hot prices on flights recently (like $176 roundtrip to Curacao or $65 to Vegas) but those fares sold out within hours. In the last few weeks, airfares to places like the Caribbean and Europe have more than doubled on popular dates. It’s easy to see why: supply and demand — airlines cut flights and routes which drives pricing up.
Our tip: Don’t procrastinate — when you see a good fare, don’t wait to book!
2021 (and even 2022) travel is booking up, and quickly
With people putting their 2020 vacations on pause, many have already started moving their travel plans to 2021 and beyond. Hotels, cruises and vacation packagers have picked up on this and are featuring sales for 2021 travel. All of this future travel planning now could mean sell out situations for those who wait to book or you’ll pay top dollar for the leftover dates and packages.
Our tip: Use the same approach that we outlined with airfare — if you see something you like at a great price, now’s the time to lock it in before the best dates sell out.
Take advantage of flexible policies
On new bookings, many airlines, cruise lines and vacation packagers are allowing you to change or cancel your trip for free. We’ve never seen this level of flexibility before and we don’t expect it to stay around forever. Cancelling might not mean a full refund but you may receive a travel credit, sometimes valid for up to two years or longer. And when it comes to hotels, almost all have rates and policies that allow you to cancel and receive a refund if you decide not to go. But, remember to read the details before confirming anything.
Our tip: Print out a copy of the current refund/change policy with a timestamp (or take a screenshot). If you don’t end up going on your trip and ask for a change or refund, it never hurts to have documentation of the policy at the time you booked.
Know what you’re entitled to with plane tickets
If an airline cancels the flight, you are legally entitled to a refund as a consumer, not a credit. Even if they rebook you on a different flight, you still have the option to decline and receive a refund.
Our tip: It can pay to wait until the last minute these days before switching your plans.
Cleanliness is the industry’s top priority
More then ever before, we’re seeing partners take significant measures to tout their enhanced cleaning policies. The U.S. Travel Association has issued best practices and many hotels and airlines are going above and beyond, from United Airlines’ CleanPlus program (developed with the Cleveland Clinic) to Hilton’s CleanStay program (with contactless check-in and digital room keys).
Our tip: Doing your research pays off — check your travel partner’s website to see if they’re doing anything special to ensure yor safety. If they’re going above and beyond, it’ll be featured front and center.
Midweek stays are magic
With business and group travel way down — and predicted to remain that way for several months — you can find extremely strong hotel deals for Sunday through Thursday night stays, especially in locations that cater to business travelers or large groups (think luxury downtown hotels or destination resorts).
Our tip: Forego the popular long weekend trips and travel when everyone else is working. If you can take those coveted vacation days Sunday – Thursday, you’ll potentially save hundreds of dollars on your trip.
As you can see from our weekly Top 20, we’re still researching and negotiating irresistible offers on your behalf — many exclusive to Travelzoo members. Right now might not be the best time to travel , but right now can be the best time to book travel.