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AAA: Travelers booking trips as much as 2 years in advance to save big money

MANATEE — Planning the perfect trip could take days, weeks or even months, but a recent AAA study shows 64 percent of travelers are booking seven months to 2 years in advance to save money.

"The fact travelers are booking so far in advance tells us travelers are taking more expensive trips, and they want enough time to adequately plan them," said Vicky Evans, director of field travel support, AAA-The Auto Club Group. "Despite improvements in the economy and low gas prices, saving money remains a top priority for many families. Travelers can get much more for their money by booking in advance. Anyone who books their travel plans with AAA by June 20 can receive up to $500 in savings or onboard credit for a cruise or tour."

TOP AAA TRAVEL TIPS

Cruises: Booking early for cruise allows travelers the best cabin selection and the best price. In some cases, if you have not paid your final payment and the price goes down, your price could be recalculated.

Tour: Many early bird discounts along with a paid-in-full discount that saves travelers 10 percent, which is much more than a savings account.

Airfare: Shop between midnight and 5 a.m. on a Monday or Tuesday. Any flights not paid in full are released at midnight, a time when most people are sleeping. This means more seat availability, reduced demand and cheaper airfares.Delete your computer’s cookies before returning to a website to find reduced airfare. This way the computer/website will not remember you visited the site earlier and will reflect lower prices. Otherwise, the website remembers you visited before and may not show the lowest price available.

Rental cars: Rent from location outside of the airport. Yes, getting a rental car from the airport is convenient, but can cost upward of 30 percent more than renting a vehicle offsite. It may be more inconvenient to take a shuttle to a nearby rental location than to pick a car up at the airport, but the cost will likely be substantially less.Prepay for the vehicle. Many times, rental car companies will charge up to 20 percent less for the rental if the car is prepaid at the time of reservation.

Hotel rates: Book as a package with a travel agent: Many times, hotel rates will decrease upward of 20 percent by booking as a package in conjunction with airline tickets and/or car rentals. Travel agents have the inside connections and know the ins and outs of the industry to find and hold the best rates possible.Engage with hotels on social networks. Before booking a hotel, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Many times, deals will be announced on social sites that travelers can take advantage of prior to booking. Also, comment on their social sites about your interest to stay at the property and you may receive an individual discount offer or free upgrades as an incentive to get you to book.

Attractions: Book a resort package. If you plan to take a theme park family vacation, it’s typically better to stay at an affiliated, onsite resort to get extra perks such as extended hours at the park, free transportation, skip-the-line passes, as well as additional savings on everything from dining, tickets, waived parking fees, free wifi and more. Initially, it may seem more expensive to book at a resort, but the little freebies and perks can add up to substantial savings.

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