Long before the internet changed virtually everything about planning for a vacation or a simcha trip, there were Arthur Frommer’s paperback guides to budget travel. His original guide, which came out in the 1950s, was “Europe on $5 a Day,” and its subsequent editions and other money-saving editions made him a millionaire many times over before he sold off the business to Simon & Schuster.
In July, he’ll be 94 and staying closer to home in Manhattan. His daughter, Pauline, has become the public face of the company. It’s once again a family-owned corporation with a full list of travel books. There’s new ones out on London, Italy and Greece, and on June 13, there is an updated guide to Israel. The previous edition was seven years old.
Pauline Frommer has successfully transitioned the Frommer brand into the online age. She publishes a website filled with smart, no-nonsense advice and puts together a regularly scheduled podcast, both of which frequently offer the results of the company’s travel research.
She advised that those who are planning a family simcha event or personal travel may be surprised to find that hotel rates, which began to rise from their lows during the pandemic are, according to Pauline Frommer’s research, now rising faster than inflation.
“Partially, more expensive hotel rooms have to do with hotels that are understaffed, which is allowing them to accept less guests, but then raise prices. That means that, if you’re trying to save on hotels, one of the best ways to do so right now is to do a booking well in advance, but make sure it’s refundable and then look at the prices in the week before you’re going. That’s when we’ve found prices are often lowest. For resort travel, a recent study using AI that looked at millions of bookings found that if you’re going to a resort destination like the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico, you will pay less if you book it three months in advance. You won’t find much difference for rates at a particular hotel when you Google them.”
She continued, “Every hotel on the planet right now has contracts with Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and the like. And those contracts say that they cannot give significantly preferred discounts publicly to one entity. They have to give it to all of them. Basically, they can’t give a really good discount to Booking.com if they don’t give it to Expedia.com, too. If you want to save more you may want to buy a membership to a travel club, like RoomSteals.com, which is not bound by the restrictions that the Expedia-like sites are bound to. However you book, when you check in, always use a regular credit card, not a debit card. You’ll find it is a more convenient way to handle the extra charges such as the deposit many hotels require.
“For airline fares, we looked at a recent study by the Airline Reporting Corporation. In analyzing 40 million fare transactions, they found that people who booked on Sunday statistically saved more than those who book on other days of the week. They also found that booking between 20 and 35 days in advance will give the best prices on a domestic ticket. For international fares in 2022, they said it was best for six months out. This year, I think it’s going to be closer to the window for domestic travel, 28 to 35 days. Starting your tour or your flight on Wednesday is also the best way to save money.”
Pauline Frommer continued, “The best site for finding good fares is Skyscanner. It’s the best performer on price. The decade-old Czech site, Kiwi, is our next choice. It offers not only prices that are almost as good as Skyscanner but offers more flexibility. It did, however, catch some bad reviews for lackluster customer service. Rounding out our top three is Hopper, the travel app, which found the best or near best price on a par with the top two sites, save for a few flubs on last minute long-haul flights. There’s no website version.
“In conclusion, I would say that you up your chances of having a really, really rewarding trip by preparing for it in advance. You’re going to be more thoughtful, and richer when you come prepared for travel.”