Regardless of who people voted for in the election, everyone I’ve talked to is experiencing excitement coupled with uncertainty as we enter this period of transition. Given our daily dose of gloomy economic news, it is tempting to jump to the conclusion that the 2009 family vacation is too expensive and must be postponed. Before you bury your travel file, read this article from the LA Times, “The best time to travel may be during bad economy.”
If your concern is price, there are an insane number of deals out there right now to practically all of the top tourist destinations. I’m inundated every day with emails about hotel deals and many of our portfolio properties are offering incredible packages and promotions.
The good news is that you don’t have to travel now to take advantage of these offers – properties want the security of filling up rooms for their busy season and will offer early booking discounts, i.e. you can use this time to book spring and summer vacations and still have some wiggle room around canceling the trip if you get cold feet down the road.
One thing that contributes to planning uncertainty is parting with cash now for deposits. Hotels in North America usually charge 1-2 nights at the time of booking, but have very generous cancellation terms so you can still change your mind last minute. Most hotels in Europe do not take a deposit up front, with longer cancellation terms during peak months only. Although, home/resort condo rentals are often the most kid-friendly accommodation option and these reservations usually require 30-50% down with strict cancellation terms.
Be assertive about asking about promotions. Many properties are good about publishing special offers, but there are many deals you don’t find out about unless proactively ask about them. Any request right now should include a specific question asking about available promotions. We’ve added this language to all of our outbound requests on Ciao Bambino.
The good news for international travelers is that after a year when many people opted to skip Europe because of the sky-high exchange rate, it has dropped significantly in the past month alone. Flights are still expensive and it seems like fares have not dropped substantially. If airfare makes a trip that would otherwise be affordable to book now impossible, plan a regional getaway. At least gas prices have dropped!
During stressful and tough times breaks are even more important. At home, we are pulled in every direction and vacation is the only time we get to relax and escape from reality. For many families, vacations are their best memories and parents and kids alike are always looking forward to the next experience. You may need to be more flexible about when and how you travel, but it’s a buyers travel market right now and value is everywhere.