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Summer Travel Week 1: Book Early For Memorial Day

Photo via Flickr//Taber Andrew Bain

Memorial Day, the so-called “unofficial start of summer,” is eight weeks away and counting. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody looks at the first of a series of AAA's suggestions on how to save money on that vacation. This installment deals with lodging.

Jessica Brady at AAA South in Tampa says the one rule of thumb the auto club wants everyone to remember is that historically, the closer Memorial Day looms, booking a hotel will become harder and more expensive.

“In the past couple of years we’ve seen hotel lodgings – whether it’s a two-or-three-diamond hotel go upwards of 8-10% right before the holiday,” says Brady. “Typically you see prices go up, I would say, about two weeks before we get to that holiday weekend. So if you're thinking about doing something that holiday weekend or around that time frame, now is the time to plan and book that vacation.”

AAA has four tips on making that vacation run smoothly.

  1. Contact a travel agent and compare their options and prices to “going it alone.”
  2. Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get the best deal on a room.
    “If you’re thinking of visiting a certain hotel in an area or by a beach, ‘like’ them on Facebook and see what kind of offers they have,” Brady said.  “Many places will have offers that they only do on social channels. Or if you’re following them on Twitter, let them know you’re interested.”
  3. Book the hotel room ASAP, if you know where you’re going. Brady says hotel rates jumped 8-10 percent before Memorial Day last year, adding that this tip is the biggest one to save the most money.
  4. Book at hotels that offer more than just a place to sleep – free parking, and/or breakfast among other examples. But Brady warns that these are the places that ten to fill up the quickest.

And if you plan to drive to your Memorial Day destination, AAA’s Jessica Brady says you may want to plan to spend a bit more on gas than last year, as prices continue to rise with no sign of abatement anytime soon.
AAA's next installment of “Secrets to Summer Savings” is out next week, on booking hotel, car and other vacation needs as a package deal.