But traveler experts say planning early will lead to discounts
Some students say the right time to plan a trip passed long ago, but there are still deals available according to AAA representatives near Kent.
AAA Travel Counselor Georgene Armstrong said the right time to start planning a spring break vacation is as early as possible.
Travel packages for the locations vary depending on the travel agency used, but the packages, as seen on travel sites such as AAA.com, Priceline.com and Travelocity.com, differ by:
&bull Airlines used (Multiple plane ticket deals are offered by some agencies)
&bull Hotel extras (hotel quality – one example is the diamond rating system used by AAA – wireless Internet, etc.)
&bull Inclusiveness of the package (how much is included in the initial package price). Examples used by Priceline.com are meals, outdoor sporting activities, entertainment and fitness center access.
“It’s best to start booking around nine to 10 months out,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the hotels in spring break hot spots tend to fill up quickly, but she said there are still deals to be had.
“Some prices have dropped, so you can come in and get some good deals. Especially on cruises and trips to Vegas,” she said.
She said the lower prices are the result of the downturn in the economy. Armstrong said the number of people traveling is down as well, and she noticed that fewer students are coming in to plan spring break trips.
She said popular places for students during spring break are Pensacola, Fla., Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Senior pre-finance major Mike Matousek said he uses Google.com to find out how he will travel.
“I usually just Google to see what comes up with the best price,” Matousek said.
Matousek said he isn’t doing anything big this year, but said he plans on taking a road trip with a friend to Chicago. He said “driving at all costs” is a trend he sees as a viable travel option.
“People who are going to Panama (Fla.) are driving down this year because it’s cheaper than flying,” Matousek said.
Matousek said he is fine with taking a small trip because he said he sees spring break as an opportunity to rest.
“My idea of spring break is to come back refreshed,” he said. “It’s a week off.”
Some things to keep in mind, according to Priceline.com, are “government imposed taxes and fees.” Priceline listed various additional costs such as the Sept. 11 Security Fee, which charges $2.50 per flight segment. Priceline defined a flight segment as “one takeoff and one landing.”
The U.S. or International Departure and Arrival Charges, which can cost up to $200, are other fees to watch out for.
Mary Forchione, a sophomore family and consumer science education major, said she would go anywhere for spring break.
Forchione said she usually travels to Naples, Fla., but she is unable to go this year because the home she typically goes to is already rented out for spring break. She said she would like to at least go on a brief weekend excursion if nothing else, though.
She said in addition to planning a couple months ahead, her secret to getting good deals lies in knowing the right people. She said she often receives discounts by knowing people who work at hotels.
“I know a lot of people who work for hotels, so I can usually get a friend or family discount,” Forchione said.
Forchione said the factors she considers when planning a trip are airfare, flight times and hotel prices. One thing she said she thinks it is really important is to keep looking at prices.
“Keep checking the prices because the prices change all the time,” Forchione said.
Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected]