airline or lodging first?

Old Aug 9th, 2021, 07:29 AM
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airline or lodging first?

We (family of 4) are planning a trip to Europe (London, Amsterdam, France) next summer. Which do you secure first, airline reservations or lodging? Why? We will be looking into vrbo/airbnb type places to stay. Thanks for the help and suggestions.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by rmoore926 View Post
We (family of 4) are planning a trip to Europe (London, Amsterdam, France) next summer. Which do you secure first, airline reservations or lodging? Why? We will be looking into vrbo/airbnb type places to stay. Thanks for the help and suggestions.
I always book airfare first--assuming you have some flexibility, why would you book accommodations and then be locked into certain dates?
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 08:27 AM
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Although any "rules of thumb" seem to be unreliable this year (duh) in general airfares tend to be at their highest when bookings first become available, typically 330 to 360 days before flight time. Traditionally, they then fall slowly over the next few months before climbing closer to flight date, as the cheapest fare "buckets" or categories, sell out, leaving the costlier ones.

In addition, the airlines have so altered their schedules and fleet allocations this year that any "certainty" for next year is very doubtful. Flights might be added or cancelled, timing switched around, carriers entering or leaving specific markets (or going bust altogether,) so that booking flights now might be even more unreliable.

Frankly, at this stage, I'd be more concerned with developing an itinerary and surveying present conditions (local transport, pandemic restrictions, open/closed attractions etc.,) and hold off on firm bookings until later this year, even the winter.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 08:43 AM
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I wouldn't even think about booking anything (flights or accommodations) for several months. For the reasons Gardyloo mentions plus the travel industry in general is in such turmoil. Any property you find now could be closed by next year.

Hopefully things will be more settled later this winter. Once the dust starts to settle, I'd definitely book flights first then massage the itinerary/accommodations to fit.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 08:48 AM
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normally flights first.

Do nothing yet
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 08:55 AM
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When all things were normal, we always booked the flight first. We also traveled in March so had a wide choice of hotels. We generally booked 4-6 months in advance. Our travel was mostly to Italy or France. Good luck and please let everyone know about your trip.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 09:25 AM
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I've always booked flights first, but this year I booked refundable accommodation first, and then booked airfare when a sale was offered on refundable tickets.

Regardless, I'd never book either a year in advance. Too much could happen between now and then. I typically book airfare about four months in advance, and then worry about accommodation.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 09:45 AM
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Yes, flights first.

About a month ago I booked lodging in the Isle of Lewis in Scotland for an October trip. I was looking at self-catering and B&Bs. Even that far in advance I had trouble finding vacancies. I believe this is partly because of the UK opening up.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the reassurance. That's what I thought - flights first. Not looking to book anything now, just planning..... Will start looking closer at flights in December probably. We are both teachers and our girls (18 and 15 this summer) are in school so we will travel late Jun or early July most likely. Thanks again - Robert
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 10:44 AM
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Many times if it is four or more I book accommodations first. We just lost one for next May I wanted in Llanberis. If Christmas lodgings I book way out. I can't do that with airfare. I booked a beautiful home in Islay for next May in May. No flights yet. I find where my family live the rentals are gone a year out. I ended up with a very expensive Airbnb this past month. If alone I stay with family but husband likes his own space. Everything is up in the air but my girlfriends and I were just talking about the Olympics in Paris. We want to go. I pick where I want to go and build my trip around that. We wanted to be in Ypres for Armistice day this year. I booked a lovely apartment overlooking the church and Cloth hall. Then we decided on everything else. Everything is cancelable, just very iffy right now. Wish I had gone for Tour de France now.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 10:59 AM
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I'm with Macross here. I used always to book flights first but IMO the advent of accommodation which can be cancelled without penalty often up to the day of commencement or in some cases on the day has changed the game. Of course it's sensible to check that the airline will actually be flying that route on the dates being considered [if the route is integral to the trip] but taking the example of the Paris Olympics, several people here have mentioned it already and you can bet they aren't the only ones. The priority is therefore to book accommodation asap and then wait for flights which won't be around for ages yet.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 11:04 AM
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I make absolutely certain I have designed the itinerary I want first, with no backtracking if possible. When I am very sure of the itinerary, then I carefully consider flights, especially if Multi-City would be best, again, so we are not backtracking. While multi-city (not two one-way) flights may seem more costly at first, the cost of travel (perhaps even a hotel night with no sightseeing) and days lost to backtracking may actually be more.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 12:05 PM
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I don't think there is a one size fits all answer.

Are your lodging needs an easy to find 1 or 2 adults in one room, or a more challenging 2 adults and 3 kids? Are you visiting someplace during a time it books up early?

Do you live near a large airport or somewhere where you need to make a few connections which complicate? Using miles?

I almost always book refundable lodging first, because the good, budget places in good locations fill up. My closest airport is PHL, and I rarely have trouble finding suitable flights and can wait for a reasonable price.
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Old Aug 9th, 2021, 12:56 PM
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Great advice from Elberko concerning consideration of family needs for lodging. Some places may not have as much that accommodates larger families.
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 05:16 AM
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If it were me, I would book the air for next summer first (and relatively soon). Airlines normally release seats 11 months in advance. I would go into CDG and out of LHR or vice versa and use trains in between. I would not wait to see how things sort out re Covid as you will then be vying with a multitude of travelers trying to make up for 24 months of non-travel. By the way, some (maybe most) airlines are temporarily doing away with transfer fees in case you need to change flights. Once I've locked in my flights, I would work on lodging. This wouldn't be a problem if you're using hotels, which I would do for less than 5 days or so, but it could be an issue to find a 2br apartment within your budget in rent-restricted Paris, for example. If more than one suitable apartment is available, I would pick the one with the least up-front deposit and best policy re cancellation. Finally, I would stay in London, Amsterdam, and Paris and, if I were going to be in any one of these cities for more than 5-7 days, I would definitely take at least one day trip by train to a destination outside the metropolis. Have fun planning your trip!
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 06:17 AM
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elberko, we have Orlando, Sanford and Daytona. Jax and Tampa are only 2 hours away. Our flights are much better than my travel friend that lives in Atlanta often. I did book a hotel for the night before the ferry, as there were only 12 rooms and my first choice, was booked. Rabbies, Timberbush and other tour companies book those rooms so not waiting. We do have a plan A and a plan B.
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 11:14 AM
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In almost all cases, air ticket choices are more important (and scarcer) to secure than lodging. Always take care of the most important things first. Obviously there are times when the lodging is more scarce. For example, the National Parks in the USA.. In some cases, there is little or no choice in lodging.

But Paris or London or almost anywhere in Europe? Plenty of leeway there for lodging.

Also, following this logic, when you go on vacation do the priorities first. So if you go on vacation to see the Grand Canyon, don't make it the last stop. Get there first thing. Vacations usually go as planned, but if they don't then it's usually something bad. Or to put it another way, see the Grand Canyon before you sprain that ankle.
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 12:00 PM
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I think today you should check the car rental first.
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 03:49 PM
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So if you go on vacation to see the Grand Canyon, don't make it the last stop. Get there first thing. Vacations usually go as planned, but if they don't then it's usually something bad.

Excellent point. Very glad we visited La Sagrada Familia the day after we arrived in Barcelona in March 2020. Something very bad brought our trip to an abrupt end.
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Old Aug 10th, 2021, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
So if you go on vacation to see the Grand Canyon, don't make it the last stop. Get there first thing. Vacations usually go as planned, but if they don't then it's usually something bad.

Excellent point. Very glad we visited La Sagrada Familia the day after we arrived in Barcelona in March 2020. Something verybad brought our trip to an abrupt end.
We’d planned to visit the Alcazar on our second day in in Sevilla at the same time and it was closed! Luckily we made it out on one of the last flights out of town…😉
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