• Travelers urged to plan ahead to secure the best deals


    Even during times of economic hardship and financial uncertainty, many people are reluctant to sacrifice their annual vacations. Rather than cut getaways out of their budgets entirely, increasing numbers of travelers are seeking ways to reduce the cost of their family travel plans. According to Travel and Leisure magazine, booking early is often the best way for frugal tourists to reduce the cost of their trip.

    The perfect storm  

    Although it is encouraging that so many people still prioritize family travel in hesitant financial conditions, this is having a detrimental impact on the cost of the average getaway. Between increasing demand for air travel, limited space on flights and cruises and fluctuating fuel costs, many tour operators and airlines are raising their prices.

    In fact, according to Smith Travel Research, overall costs of taking a flight or a cruise could increase by as much as 5 percent this year. Booking early remains the best way for budget-conscious travelers to keep their costs down.

    Tim Gibson, chief executive officer of Alpha Flight Guru, said that now is the time to book flights for passengers intending to travel by air.

    "The best-priced airline fares are on sale today," Gibson said. "Between rising oil prices, and increased travel demand during the summer, airfare rates will only climb as time goes on. The trip from Boston to Hamburg is the same price in June and August - but it spikes in July."

    Sail away  

    Although airline prices may not budge much, even for early bookings, cruises are another matter entirely.

    "An explosion of capacity in the luxury cruise market is helping to drive never-before-seen early-bookings deals," said Bob Levinstein, chief executive officer of cruise news and deal website CruiseCompete, as quoted by the news source. Levinstein was referring to the expansion of major fleets such as Azamara Club Cruises and Seabourn's growing number of ships and destinations.

    According to Cruise Critic, booking early is the best way for passengers planning a family travel trip to save money. Although some experts admit that booking deals as they happen can result in missed savings, locking in a good rate, securing the type of cabin travelers want and confirming dates in advance make early booking something for frugal travelers to think about.

    "People with families or set vacation schedules and those who need a specific type of cabin - like quads or balconies - should book early," said John Keen, chief executive officer of Cruise Now.

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