As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to wane, people are starting to look toward traveling again. And this year, money expert Clark Howard has some unusual advice on when to book your summer trip.
“I’m going to make a recommendation on travel that I can’t recall I’ve ever made,” Clark says. “Here we are in February, and I want you to book your summertime flights now!”
Now Is the Best Time To Book Summer Travel for 2022
Clark says his pre-pandemic advice would be to wait for spring airfare sales, which usually start sometime in April and go into early May — but not this year.
The World Travel & Tourism Council, which represents global travel and tourism interests, predicts that U.S. travel will rebound strongly and surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Why Is Now the Time To Book Your Summer Travel?
Clark surmises that the best deals will go fairly quickly due to the number of people who have put off trips for the past two years.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand among travel addicts like me. I gotta get my fix,” he says. And as for you: “I want you to go ahead and buy a ticket.”
Tips on Booking Summer Travel
Compare Flights To Get the Best Fares
Whatever you do, don’t just go to your favorite airline’s website and proceed to plop down money on a fare. To get the best deals, you should compare prices.
Stay Away from Basic Economy
When searching for flights, remember that all fares are not created equal.
“Avoid like the plague those basic economy tickets being sold by American, United and Delta,” Clark says. “Do not buy those!”
The full-fare airlines have placed plenty of restrictions and penalties on those, so Clark recommends that instead, you purchase a refundable regular economy ticket to give you flexibility when you travel, which he says is a must these days.
“If you buy their regular economy, which will be more money, you still have the ability to turn that ticket at any point into basically a voucher to use on that airline,” Clark says.
Travel vouchers are typically good for one year, which should give you plenty of time to squeeze in another trip.
Book Your Car Rental Now
With more people renting cars this summer, it may be difficult to find an affordable model if you wait too long.
Clark recommends you do the following:
- Book now while prices are relatively low.
- Never book a prepaid rental car.
- Always re-shop your rental car later to see if you can get it cheaper.
Book Your Hotel Now, Too
“I want you to book your accommodations that line up with that trip now as well because you don’t know what’s going to happen with those prices,” Clark says.
Clark says he typically finds great deals on Hotwire. He also looks at Priceline, which uses “opaque pricing,” a method that hides the name of the hotel you want to book in exchange for giving you a cheaper rate.
Follow Clark’s rules when you book a hotel: He reserves four-star properties (3.5 stars if nothing else is available) that are recommended by at least 80% of guests.
“Make sure you have a room, and make sure it’s one you can cancel,” he says.
Clark wants you to book your entire summer trip now if you can. But refundability is key.
“I want you to get your trip locked in — but fully flexible,” Clark says. “The only thing that’s not flexible is the flight. You’re not going to be able to get your money back, but you’ll have the value of the money to use at a future time.”
Want more trip tips? Here’s Clark’s #1 rule to travel cheap.