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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

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That’s the dilemma facing travelers who are trying to decide whether to book flights now, while prices are low, or wait until later in the summer travel season when fares may decrease further.  The New York Times reports, “In recent weeks, travelers have been able to find nonstop round-trip flights, including taxes and fees, for $477 from Chicago to Madrid for travel in April, $312 from Newark, N.J., to Dublin in May, and $482 from Washington to London in early June.” Sounds great, right? But what if ticket prices can still go lower, just like the housing market? And what if they don’t? Will travelers ruin their plans by playing wait-and-see? The old “book early for the best price” rule is no longer applicable, it seems.

The answer, of course, is that it depends. One travel agent told the Times that if your plans are very rigid and leave little room for flexibility, it may be best to book now and lock in the dates that you need rather than wait a few weeks and receive a better fare but lose the dates that are required.

When you plan to travel also makes a difference. Another agent said that the best bet for those looking toward Europe for May or early June is to book now; those traveling later in the summer may want to wait for special fares to come into effect.

There are also a number of sites that can compare fares over a long period of time to help you figure out when the best time to buy will be. Sites mentioned by the Times include the following:

Ultimately, though, as every traveler knows, it’s a crapshoot when it comes to purchasing tickets. If you find a better fare after you’ve booked a flight, don’t sweat it! And don’t let the specter of a better deal haunt the remainder of your trip!

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