Is it always better to book ahead?

I am one who likes to plan – I will book 355 days in advance if I can. Usually this is a good way to save money and get the best deals. For example, I know that my room in Yosemite later on this month has gone up by about $100 since I booked. I also know that, but booking in advance, I will be able to at some fantastic restaurants in San Francisco.

But is it always the best plan?

I mentioned here that I had to hire a car for the evening to get home in between my #7flightstoABZ trip. I booked about 3 weeks ahead with Avis via BA.com as it was cheaper than going direct. This will also earn me some more Avios points.

In an idle moment whilst watching the Olympics, I looked up the cost of the hire – in part wondering what the chances were of an upgrade – and was amazed to see how low the prices were. I had paid £36 for a Ford Fiesta – my rationale was that the Heathrow Express one way would be about £15 and a taxi the other, as I have a 0645 flight, would be about £40 so it would be much cheaper and more convenient.

As you can see from the search below, the same car for the same times is now under £25 for the same times the day before travel, and a Fiat 500 is coming in at under £21.

Avis prices

I did look to see if I could cancel and rebook, but this was not an option.

It is clearly a compromise between locking in a price before they go up or sell out, and being able to take advantage of the last-minute deals. I am a cautious traveler who likes to have things planned, but this has certainly reminded me that the best deals are not always the ones that are booked in advance.

Do you tend to book months ahead, or do you go for last minute deals?

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3 thoughts on “Is it always better to book ahead?

  1. When that happens to me I make a second reservation and when it is confirmed I go to the original booking and amend the date for a car 10 months away. Next time I need a car I go back to the booking and amend it again, changing dates and cities as necessary. No cancellation charge, just pay the balance if the new hire costs more. I am Avis Prefered so I have an account with them that is linked to my BA Executive account.

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