Best Trip-Planning Tips

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Jason Lee

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Don’t book that dream trip until you’ve read our can’t-miss tips on planning your getaway.

Any traveler who is familiar with the phrase “blackout date,” paid for a cab fare
that’s almost as expensive as an airline ticket, or searched for a hotel deal online knows
that making travel plans can be difficult and expensive.

So Travel + Leisure took a look at the current travel landscape to suss out where
you’ll find ease and value in the months ahead. We considered everything, from airline fees
to loyalty programs to three-star hotels and villa rentals, and came up with 12 essential tips for
trip planning all year long.

Not only did we pack these 12 tips with money-saving ideas, field-tested resources, and industry
secrets, we also did our research. For airline loyalty programs, for example—a subject
typically riddled with dead ends and loopholes, recently aggravated by the disjointed
economy—we read through the most recent fine print to find out which plans are the most
accessible, flexible, and rewarding for you. On the cost side, hidden hotel and airline fees can
end a trip on an unhappy note (who likes unexpected credit card charges?), but—with a few
pointers—they can be easily avoided.

While 2009 was a rough year for the travel industry, there is a silver lining: deals, deals, and
more deals. Cruises, hotels, and outfitters are not only discounting, they’re also adding
extras into packages for singles, couples, and families. Even previous luxuries like business class
airline fares are up for grabs: in one field test on farecompare.com, we found that prices for
business class flights from New
York
, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta had dropped as much as 55 percent
from a year ago.

The same is true for hotel rooms. Hotels.com reports that rates in New York and Las Vegas are down an astounding 30
percent, while in European cities they’ve dropped an average of 16 percent. And with fewer
people booking hotels for company travel, business hotels have entered the leisure market, offering
great incentives for vacationers. Want to rent a villa instead? HomeAway.com, which has a database of more than 185,000 vacation
rentals, notes that property owners are including extras like a personal chef or free cleaning
services to encourage bookings.

And while it seems like globetrotters have to keep a firm finger on travel industry buzz to get
great deals and avoid travel mishaps, it turns out that industry leaders are also keeping track of
them. Have a trip-planning problem with Disney, Marriott, JetBlue, or Hyatt? Sign on to Twitter; all those companies have accounts to respond to
questions or problems almost immediately.

A trip starts from the moment you block off those vacation days, so get started on the right
foot. Read on for relevant and informative trip-planning tips and tricks.

Best Trip-Planning Tips

Don’t book that dream trip until you’ve read our can’t-miss tips on planning your getaway.

Any traveler who is familiar with the phrase “blackout date,” paid for a cab fare
that’s almost as expensive as an airline ticket, or searched for a hotel deal online knows
that making travel plans can be difficult and expensive.

So Travel + Leisure took a look at the current travel landscape to suss out where
you’ll find ease and value in the months ahead. We considered everything, from airline fees
to loyalty programs to three-star hotels and villa rentals, and came up with 12 essential tips for
trip planning all year long.

Not only did we pack these 12 tips with money-saving ideas, field-tested resources, and industry
secrets, we also did our research. For airline loyalty programs, for example—a subject
typically riddled with dead ends and loopholes, recently aggravated by the disjointed
economy—we read through the most recent fine print to find out which plans are the most
accessible, flexible, and rewarding for you. On the cost side, hidden hotel and airline fees can
end a trip on an unhappy note (who likes unexpected credit card charges?), but—with a few
pointers—they can be easily avoided.

While 2009 was a rough year for the travel industry, there is a silver lining: deals, deals, and
more deals. Cruises, hotels, and outfitters are not only discounting, they’re also adding
extras into packages for singles, couples, and families. Even previous luxuries like business class
airline fares are up for grabs: in one field test on farecompare.com, we found that prices for
business class flights from New
York
, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta had dropped as much as 55 percent
from a year ago.

The same is true for hotel rooms. Hotels.com reports that rates in New York and Las Vegas are down an astounding 30
percent, while in European cities they’ve dropped an average of 16 percent. And with fewer
people booking hotels for company travel, business hotels have entered the leisure market, offering
great incentives for vacationers. Want to rent a villa instead? HomeAway.com, which has a database of more than 185,000 vacation
rentals, notes that property owners are including extras like a personal chef or free cleaning
services to encourage bookings.

And while it seems like globetrotters have to keep a firm finger on travel industry buzz to get
great deals and avoid travel mishaps, it turns out that industry leaders are also keeping track of
them. Have a trip-planning problem with Disney, Marriott, JetBlue, or Hyatt? Sign on to Twitter; all those companies have accounts to respond to
questions or problems almost immediately.

A trip starts from the moment you block off those vacation days, so get started on the right
foot. Read on for relevant and informative trip-planning tips and tricks.

Jason Lee

Best Trip-Planning Tips

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