Fall Travel Bargains Will Abound and Here's Where to Find Them
Tired of high hotel rates and airfares this summer? Just wait. Travel prices may be about to go into a tailspin -- again.
But doesn't this happen every year, as fall approaches? No. Not like this.
When I talk to travelers who are making plans this autumn, I hear about dramatic, unexpected bargains. Connect the dots with what I'm hearing from travel companies, who are telling me that some rates will be on par with last year's record-low prices, and you might reasonably conclude that things are about to get interesting.
And then there's this: The feeling that the worst is yet to come. Know what I'm talking about? It's like the pit in your stomach right after the first drop on the rollercoaster, that premonition that you're about to go freefalling off a precipice. I don't know why I feel that way, other than the fact that the pundits have been talking about a double-dip recession for the last few weeks.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Airfares, car rental rates, cruise prices and hotel rates should be recovering from their record lows in 2010. And for a while, it looked as if that was happening. But one ash cloud, an oil spill and a wobbly recovery later, room rates are basically on a par with last summer's record low rates and air fares, which are up slightly now, are already starting to head south for the fall in selected markets.
Exceptions? Yes, they exist. Car rental rates are rising across the board -- at least for now -- says
Same thing for cruise prices. I heard from several cruise travel agents who say there are no bargains to be had this fall. (Priceline ran a few numbers and begged to differ; it found several late-fall
But if the bottom falls out of the economy -- and folks, I really hope this doesn't happen -- then all bets are off.
There'd be a silver lining, though: The balance of 2010 could be a buyer's market for travel once again. So if you missed all the deals last year, here's your second chance.
But you have to shop smart. Here's where you'll find the steals:
With a stronger dollar,
These aren't the best of times for amusement parks, whether it's the mom-and-pop arcade on the boardwalk or the destination theme park. Fall is typically a slow time, and with the rest of the travel industry looking at a possible downturn, some parks are already getting aggressive with their pricing.
"I almost fell out of my chair," says
Look closely at the price quotes, because they may be a lot better than they first appear. Rates at the swanky Breakers resort in
If there's a difference between this year and last, it's that the bargains aren't going to fall in your lap. You may have to find them, or be patient.
For example, some airfares to
Trust me, they will panic.
I can't imagine them staying that high, so to anyone who sees a fare that's completely unaffordable, I recommend a site like Yapta, which lets you track the price and buy when the time is right. Also, check out Bing Travel, which actually projects the direction the fares will go. (It recommends waiting, although prices have already come down by about
I kind of hope I'm wrong about the bottom falling out of the travel industry this time around. But if it does, you can't say you weren't warned.
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