For those of us who are always looking for a good deal, a better deal- no, the best possible deal!- buying travel can be scary. I have often have customers ask me about the best time to purchase travel, as though there may be some golden 15 minute window each week when travel operators drop their prices. While there are numerous theories and articles about said window, I believe that the concept is akin to a unicorn or sasquatch. Fun to think about, but not something worth pursuing because you’ll spend a lot of time searching for something you probably won’t find. Most people simply get nervous at the thought of suddenly spending a lot of money all at once and (understandably) want to make sure they’re spending it wisely.
Let’s take Matt and Katie, for example. The young couple came to me asking that I help them plan their Curaçao honeymoon. We worked to find the perfect hotel, flights, rental car, and more. We finally had everything lined up. Then I discovered an interesting opportunity- if they stayed seven days, it would actually cost them less than if they stayed six. However, instead of having a buffer day in between the trip and their return to work, they would return on a red eye flight and have to go into work within a few hours of landing. So they pondered. And pondered. And pondered some more.
Over a week later, they finally got back to me, mentally ready to make the big purchase: Seven days of honeymoon was worth the lack of sleep! But wait just one second. You see, hotel and airfares are fickle things. Suddenly their hotel of choice was $155 more per night! Multiply that by 6-7 nights and suddenly their budget was thrown into a tizzy, as they couldn’t possibly afford the new rate. And just like that, a key aspect of their honeymoon was in question. Where were they going to stay?
So, here’s how you can avoid the chaos that Matt and Katie experienced:
1. Do your research. Get on the internet and figure out what the average rates are for the caliber of hotel you’re looking for or get your friendly neighborhood travel consultant to do the work for you. Be sure to use your actual travel dates when you search, as rates vary drastically depending on seasons of travel. Once you know the average, you can confidently understand what is a good deal and what is not.
2. Keep things in perspective. Obviously, you want the best deal possible. However, sometimes a trip may be coming up quickly, in which case waiting for a bargain day after day can become a stressful exercise. There’s always a chance that rates will go up instead of down. Likewise, there’s a chance that your hotel will fill up. How crucial is it for you to go to a specific hotel? If it’s high, you may want to just alleviate your stress by booking a hotel early and ease the pressure of being unsure of whether you’ll get a room, checking websites numerous times a day, and combing the internet for a deal. How much is peace of mind worth to you?
3. Pull the trigger. You’ve done the research. You’ve weighed the mental cost of booking now vs. later. You’re ready. No, really. You are. Purchase that vacation/hotel/airfare. You’ve done all you can do to be an educated buyer.
4. Stop researching. It’s tempting to keep looking at prices after your purchase in order to see if you could have possibly saved some money on your trip. However, what does that really accomplish? It just adds angst to your life and regret to your trip. Who needs that? You’re trying to get away! Start getting excited for your trip! Don’t fret in the past of what-ifs. If the inner Type-A in you comes out, put your energy into packing lists, looking into fun things you can do at your destination, etc. Don’t look back, just look forward to the fantastic time you’re going to have!
Fortunately, there was a happy ending to Matt and Katie’s story. With my help, the two found a Curacao suite complete with semi-private swimming pool, private patio, and an on-call butler, all of which fell within their original budget. However, they could have avoided all the stress of suddenly being without honeymoon lodging had they been mentally prepared to pull the trigger.