Travel Cheaper by Knowing When to Book: How to Get the Best Prices on Your Vacation


_0024_Melissa-Wentzel-SeamanThe following post features advice from Melissa at Boscov’s Travel within Boscov’s at Reading Mall. Melissa has been giving expert travel advice for the past 9 years with Boscov’s Travel and has almost three decades of experience in the industry (she was previously a flight attendant). She has the scoop on the best time to buy air tickets, when to book a cruise and how you can make the most of a European vacation. 

When should I book my honeymoon?
Sandals-Whitehouse-European-beach-coupleHoneymoons should be planned 6 to 9 months in advance of your wedding date. We offer a honeymoon registry which allows your guests to contribute to your honeymoon. Because vacations typically need to be paid in full at least 45-days in advance, we recommend that you plan your honeymoon early, then distribute the complimentary “Registered with” announcement cards with your engagement party and/or bridal shower.

How far in advance should I plan my destination wedding? 
Sunscapes-WeddingYou should plan at least a year in advance to secure the space you want, determine the officiant, decide if it will be a symbolic ceremony or nuptial service, and give friends and family ample time to book their trip. Some resorts allow you to book a few years in advance, so the sooner you choose the resort, the better. If air schedules have not yet been released, you can book your resort now and purchase flights at a later date. Luckily we have Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Specialists to help you to navigate every last detail.

How far in advance can I book a European vacation?

Prices for flights to Europe have been historically low in 2017. Summer is the peak for visiting Europe, so you can typically save a few dollars by booking in the late spring or early fall. Typically we recommend you book 9-months out from your departure date.

How far in advance should I book a river cruise?
Rhine_Cologne_Sunset_Twilight_014Because inventory is lower than other categories due to the small sizes of the ships that need to navigate the canals and rivers of Europe and beyond, we recommend that you book a year in advance to get the cabin and dates that you want.

How far in advance is airfare available to purchase? 
The major airlines typically release pricing 330 days in advance, but the prices are incredibly volatile. If you’re not booking for a flight near a major holiday, we recommend that you book 6 to 9-months out from your departure date. Flight prices are relatively high when they are released, then drop around the 6 to 9-month range.
If you’re planning on traveling around a holiday, expect to pay 2 to 4 times the normal rate. Demand is high during these periods as students and families typically travel during national holidays. In this case, book your trip as soon as you can.

Southwest Airlines is the exception. They release their rates in increments. Right now in April 2017, they have dates available to book 7-months out, or the beginning of November.

How early can I plan a Walt Disney World vacation?
Disney-Mine-TrainTravelers typically book Walt Disney World 6 to 9-months in advance. As of the beginning of April 2017, rates for tickets and resorts at Walt Disney World for 2018 were not yet available. There are a few options for booking Walt Disney World vacations with with us due to our Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World package.  If you are just booking a Walt Disney Travel Company land package (meaning tickets and resorts), you can book in the 6 to 9-month time frame then call us to see if you can take advantage of a future sale or offer through Walt Disney Travel Company.

How early should I look into booking an all-inclusive resort?
Beaches-Turks-&-Caicos-poolWe recommend booking an all-inclusive resort 6 to 9-months from your departure date. It’s also the ideal time to book air, so we can help you purchase it as a package with transfers from the airport to the resort.

How far in advance should I book an ocean cruise like Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, or MSC Cruises? 

Booking opportunities typically become available more than a year in advance. The average lead time is 6 to 9-months for booking a cruise. You may be able to get a good last minute deal if you’re flexible with the accommodations, though you may diminish the difference if you need airfare as rates typically increase for last minute bookings. If you’re driving to a local port like Manhattan, Bayonne, NJ or Baltimore, MD, a last minute booking may help you save a few bucks. Luckily, the cruise industry has changed dramatically over the past few years and almost every cruise line offers exceptional values throughout the year.

When should I plan a Disney Cruise Line cruise?
Disney-Cruise-Line-ShipDisney Cruise Line cruises are a different animal as spaces fill up relatively quickly since there are only four ships (to give you a point of reference, Royal Caribbean International has 25!) in the fleet. Since the ships sell out in advance, we recommend you book at least a year in advance. As space sells, the prices increase. As of April 2017, the 2018 schedule is available and several 2019 itineraries can also be booked.

If you’re ready to start planning your getaway, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

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A Millennial’s Guide to Travel

The following post is written by Adam from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.  Adam is well traveled and shares his insight and tips for the tech-savvy traveler. 

As a millennial that travels frequently, I wanted to share my tips and advice for traveling in your twenties and thirties. We live in a connected world. We pay bills, get rides, and stay connected to friends and family all because of smart phones. Chances are if you looking to purchase something, you probably do the research necessary to find the best deal.

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The first step in planning a trip is research. Now I know what you are thinking “I have a smart phone, I can find the best deal out there.” But that’s not necessarily the case. Do you know all the deals that a particular travel vendor is offering? Do you know that in some cases offers can be combined? Did you know that traveling to Mexico between January and April is the best time to avoid blistering heat and bad weather? If you cannot answer these questions, and if you are conscious about spending, then it is in your best interest to contact a travel agent. Everyone can benefit from checking with a travel agent when planning their next trip.

I know what you are thinking, “Travel agents cost money.” Actually a travel agent will cost you … nothing. Here’s how it works: you book your cruise with a travel agent on Titanic Cruises for the same rate OR LESS than listed online (or with additional perks), and the cruise line pays the agency for helping you to book. You book a vacation with your local travel agent and the resort pays the agency. A study came out this year reporting that travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip!  Booking with a travel agent is a win-win because not only can you save time and money, but you support a local business. Yay you!

But what it really comes down to is knowledge. Millennials want options and flexibility. A travel agent has knowledge across many facets of the travel industry. From the independent traveler who seeks adventure, to the couple who wants to immerse themselves in a new culture, and the young family who is traveling with children for the first time, a travel agent can serve as a guide to find the best vacation for you. Having a travel agent who is well traveled gives you options and flexibility when planning where they want to go and what they want to do. Think of them as an app on a smartphone, free to download and specific to what you need … travel.

Once you’ve booked your trip, the next step is what you should bring. The best rule of thumb is planning with your travel agent. Look at the weather forecast for where you are going to help when it comes to what clothing to pack. It’s best to plan what you will wear day by day. Taking the time to do this will help in avoiding fees if a checked bag is overweight, allow you bring home souvenirs, and allow space for any purchases made at a Duty-Free if traveling internationally.

Apps. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Even all-inclusive resorts have their own apps. When it comes to apps, there are a few that are definitely helpful when it comes to traveling. Most all-inclusive resorts offer free Wi-Fi during a stay. But like I mentioned before, some even have their own app. Secrets Resorts has their Unlimited Connectivity app which allows guests to access Wi-Fi, international calling, hotel information, and make spa reservations during their stay.

Here is a list of some other travel apps worthy of downloading:

  • GateGuru: Try as we might, sometimes you will experience a layover. If it turns out you experience a long layover, GateGuru can be your best friend. This app provides you with a map of the terminals as well as reviews of restaurants within the airport. However, the most helpful features might be the “tips” section and the average wait time at each terminal’s security checkpoint.
  • Free Wi-Fi Finder: Ah, free Wi-Fi. There is a certain level of satisfaction that I as a milennial experience when I connect to free Wi-Fi. As a modern traveler, you can feel stranded and helpless without Internet access. The Free Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire shows where you can find free wireless connections in urban areas. You can search with a directory or simply enable the Wi-Fi scanner to locate the nearest hot spots.
  • Uber: Allows people with smartphones to submit a trip request, and then drivers using their own vehicles come and taxi you to your destination if you’re taking a trip while on vacation. The service is offered in 66 countries and 449 cities worldwide, though restrictions make airport pick up near impossible. This app is perfect if you want to get around any urban area you are unfamiliar with and feel safer than one would in a taxi.

When it comes to flying, airlines are starting to get creative with onboard entertainment offerings. American Airlines is starting to offer on-demand services on their flights. Select flights have a personal screen on the back of the chair in front of you. They offer a selection of free movies and TV shows, and new releases of movies which can be rented during the flight. It’s always best to check the restrictions with a travel agent before you get on your flight. Not all airlines offer free Wi-Fi and if they do, it must meet certain restrictions. For example Southwest offers free Wi-Fi, but it only honors A-List members with the free Wi-Fi aboard any equipped aircraft. jetBlue has a goal to become the first U.S. carrier to provide free high speed Wi-Fi across its entire fleet. So hopefully it is only a matter of time before other airline carries follow suit. Our suggestion: load up the movies and music on your phone or tablet from home before go.

Rhine_Cologne_Sunset_Twilight_014

Let’s explore traveling abroad. Like we mentioned earlier with planning a trip and what you should bring, research is key because of cultural, language and technology differences country to country to name a few. Another reason to use a travel agent! For the tech-savvy millennial, you need to know that the brick for your smartphone cord here in the states could be completely different than what is used in another country. Other countries provide electricity of different voltages through differently shaped electrical sockets. So if you’ll be traveling with electrical appliances or your phone, specific tech accessories are a must.

  • Virtually all travelers need an adapter plug. Adapters are necessary for both electrical devices (e.g., hair dryer) as well as electronics (e.g., laptop) for them to work in the various 220V outlet types found internationally. Adapter types vary by country, so get a multi-adapter or ask your travel agent which type is needed for your destination.
  • A voltage converter or transformer may also be needed if you’re traveling with any single-voltage devices where the voltage is different than the voltage provided by your destination. Read your device’s label to determine this.
  • Data plans with your phone carrier are also important. Getting hit with Roaming charges while using your phone abroad can hurt your wallet. Always check with your carrier in regards to what you can do and if any plans are available that you can use while you are traveling abroad. Or consider using an app like Facebook Messenger or Facetime when Wi-Fi’s available.

So there it is, your guide to travel in your twenties and thirties. Hopefully this will help guide you in the research and planning of your next travel adventure. And remember if you need help, it doesn’t cost you anything to work with a travel agent. Besides it’s easier to make a phone call or send an email to a travel agent, tell them what you want, and have them do the research for you!

 

If you’re ready to book your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Travel Agents Save Consumers Time & Money

There are a variety of reasons to book your vacation with an agency. From having experienced travelers who can recommend resorts, to special deals accessible only to agents, to no cost consultations, there are a myriad of reasons why you should book your next trip with a travel agent.

Now, there’s even more data to suggest that you should book with an agent. The American Society of Travel Agents recently conducted a study that shows travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip plus four hours in travel planning. Considering nearly half of consumers book their trip online, there are billions of dollars that could be back in consumers’ pockets if they would have chosen to book with a travel agent. You can view the report here.

If you’re ready to book your next adventure and possibly save upwards of $900 per couple, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Cruise News, from Boscov’s Travel

We’re in the midst of Wave Season, the time of year when cruising is on everyone’s mind! Typically the best time of year to book a cruise is this time period from January to March because of great deals and exciting new offers coming from cruise lines. Though Wave Season is coming to an end, there’s still time to book a cruise and save BIG whether you sail this spring or late fall. We’re here to bring you the latest cruise news and deals from some of our favorite cruise brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line just announced their exclusive premier island destination in the Caribbean, Harvest Caye.  Starting in November 2016, Norwegian cruise ships will sail to this 75 acre oasis. Relax on the beach in your own private villa, sing “Margaritaville” as you enjoy the libation in Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Bar & Grill, swim with the fishes in the world’s second largest barrier reef, explore the ancient Mayan archaeological site of Nim Li Punit, paddle board on the crystal clear waters, or enjoy time in the pool.

See applicable sailings and learn more here. Going on now through April 10, 2016, choose 2 Free at Sea offers when you book a balcony or stateroom. Free at Sea offers include limited beverages (open bar), specialty dining, shore excursions, or free wi-fi (all other bookings choose 1 offer). PLUS friends & family sail free and pay reduced deposits. Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

Royal Caribbean 

Harmony of the Seas, the World’s largest cruise ship, is launching this May in Europe. From May until October, guests will have the opportunity to experience the best that the Western Mediterranean has to offer. Sail from Barcelona, Spain and visit ports in France, Italy and Spain. In November, the vessel sails to her permanent home in the Caribbean with departures from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Onboard, guests will experience big, bold adventures in perfect harmony.  Activities for the family include a kids aquapark and family-friendly sports zone. For the more adventurous, fly across the ship on the zip line, hang ten on the FlowRider surf simulator or plunge down a 10-story slide.

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Harmony of the Seas features seven neighborhoods including Central Park, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Entertainment Place, Royal Promenade, Youth Zone and Pool & Sports Zone. Take in a comedy show or an aqua show in the Aqua Ampitheatre. Enjoy Columbus, The Musical!, multiply your thrills with Grease, or collaborate with friends to find hidden clues and Escape the Rubicon!

Break out the hashtags and post online with Voom, the only high-speed internet at sea. For the over 21 crowd, have your cocktail shaken or stirred by the Bionic Bar featuring two robotic armed bartenders.View the ship’s amenities here and get a sense of its size below: Harmony_Infographic

Going on now through April 4, receive 30% off every guest on every ship (yep, even the Harmony!). Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

 

Other Cruise Deals

Celebrity Cruises – Spring Sale! For a limited time, receive fares from $799 + get free drinks + up to $300 to spend on board. Discover why Celebrity Cruises was voted Best Premium Cruise Line for the past 8 consecutive years. Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Select Cruises – Cruises curated from Boscov’s Travel Specialists with direct transfers from local Boscov’s locations. Earn on board credit and sail with confidence. Learn more here.

If there’s another cruise line you’d like to sail with, let us know and we can help you book it!

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

A Traveler’s Perspective: One of the Best Resorts in Punta Cana

Zoetry Agua in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is an all-inclusive luxury resort boasting a 6+ Global Apple rating from Apple Vacations (basically, the place is ranked at the very top of the chart). Two of our clients recently visited the resort and provided insider-access into one of the most beautiful Punta Cana hotels we’ve ever seen!

Stacy and Tyler, avid travelers and repeat Boscov’s Travel customers, were looking for an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. Having booked several trips for them in the past, Boscov’s Travel Camp Hill Travel Specialist Amy Bressler knew the amenities that Stacy and Tyler preferred, what type of atmosphere they gravitated to and what resort would provide the best vacation experience for them. They ended up on a different island all-together and settled on Zoetry Agua resort in Punta Cana.

Below, Stacy gives us her perspective on the resort (they had their own private butler!), why she recommends using a travel agency and why travel continues to be one of her favorite hobbies.

Why did you choose the particular resort?

Amy, our Travel Specialist, most definitely steered us in the right direction. She found an awesome deal at the Zoetry Agua Resort and once she showed us the resort, we were sold!

What did you like about the accommodations at the resort? (It looks like your room had its own private pool, too!)

I loved everything about this resort and our accommodations. The resort was a smaller resort with fewer rooms than most of the other resorts we have been to (96 to be exact). This made for a nice, quiet, and relaxing vacation. We had our own butler that took care of everything. He made our reservations for our spa appointments, set up transportation and tee times for two golf trips, and found us on the beach and by the pool just to make sure we had fresh drinks and beach towels.

Our room at the resort was amazing; it was bigger than some apartments. There was a “yard” with a small private pool to cool off along with lounge chairs. There was a separate sitting room with a couch and a dining table to enjoy room service. We had an open air bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and rain shower.

Our backyard

The beach and pool areas had plenty of available lounge chairs, umbrellas and natural palm trees for shade. The wait staff at the resort was top notch. They took very good care of us, our drinks were never empty, they paid great attention to detail, and they knew our names. The staff really made us feel that we were a priority and the only ones at the resort!

How were the food and drinks?

The food was excellent and the drinks were always well made. The variety of menu options was great, I don’t eat seafood and there were more than enough choices from which to choose. The steaks were probably the best tasting and well prepared steaks I have ever had on a vacation like this!

Do you have any stories from the trip that stand out?

I honestly loved everything about this trip. It was by far the nicest resort we have been to. Two things that stood were the service and the staff. From the beach and poolside staff, to the wait staff at breakfast, lunch and dinner, to our butler and even the staff at the spa, everyone was just fantastic. The resort was gorgeous, clean, and quiet – it just had such a relaxed atmosphere. I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone who wants to be taken care of and truly relax on their vacation!

So how did you learn about Boscov’s Travel?

I had been familiar with Boscov’s Travel for quite some time, my mother worked for Boscov’s department store for several years so I was aware Boscov’s had a travel division. At the time I booked my first trip through Boscov’s Travel, I did so because I was traveling with a group and Boscov’s Travel was the travel agency the group was working with. I met my travel agent Amy when booking that first trip and we have been planning vacations with her for four years now!

What makes you continue to choose Boscov’s Travel when you want to plan a vacation?

There are many reasons Boscov’s Travel is our go-to travel agency to book a vacation. We love our travel agent, Amy! She is the best and I recommend her to anyone and everyone who is looking to plan a trip. She is quick to return my calls and emails, she answers any and all questions, and makes us feel confident we are getting a great price at a perfect location with all the amenities. We also love Boscov’s Travel because of the prices they are able to offer. I have researched booking a vacation at the rate Amy has quoted us and it is definitely impossible.

Since you have been on a few trips with us and seem well-traveled, why do you choose to continue to travel?

Travel and adventure is a passion of mine. I grew up going on family vacations to Florida, cruising up and down the east coast, to the Caribbean and Canada and taking weekend trips to cities like Baltimore, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. I even took a school trip to Europe. I absolutely love to travel, visit new places, explore new cultures, or just relax on the beach or poolside with a fruity umbrella drink. That is what I love about traveling – the possibilities are endless. In one trip you can be RV-ing through the jungle in the Dominican one day and the next laying by the beach and eating a traditional Dominican dinner.

Any advice to other travelers?

My advice for other travelers: if you want a worry free vacation beginning to end, book your vacation through a travel agent. We have never had to worry about how we are getting from the airport to our resort or back to the airport from the resort, we have never had any surprise fees or other unexpected expenditures. We have never had to spend hours paging through resorts, comparing prices, and trying to find flights. Our vacations are truly vacations because we let our travel agent do all the work for us so all we have to do is show up, order a drink, and relax!  Aside from that, don’t over pack and relax – you are on vacation.

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Beautiful beaches

 

Thanks to Stacy for sharing her vacation experiences! If you’re ready to book a vacation, visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here or call us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com