Tahoe tips for 2020 - Page 4

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  1. #31

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Between the Catskills & Shawangunks
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    The key is to book stuff that you can cancel or transfer. In March 2015 we had a Tahoe trip booked but there was pretty much no snow, so we canceled it and went to Whiteface instead. Awesome decision, great skiing and the slides were open too.

    I never book a prepay rental car. The minuscule savings isn’t worth it. I book a pay at the counter reservation and keep checking it since the price fluctuates. When I find it lower I either modify my reservation or cancel and rebook depending on the car company.

    For flights, Southwest allows the most flexibility for changes or cancellations. If you cancel you get a voucher for the full value of your flight to be used within one year. If you use their credit card or otherwise book on credit card points (such as transferring chase ultimate rewards points to southwest) you get all the points back and they never expire.

    Whenever we go to South Tahoe we always stay in one of the casinos which let you cancel same day or the day before. So we were able to cancel our whole trip without penalty.

    I think it’s crazy to book a ski trip anywhere so far in advance. 3 weeks or maybe a month if things are looking good is as far out as I go. Usually it doesn’t even cost any more, but if it does it’s worth it to have the flexibility and know that conditions will be good.

    We went to Squaw & Manmoth last April and had hoped to go this year, but we’re going to go to a different ikon destination that we haven’t made a final decision on yet.

  2. #32

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Lower Hudson Valley
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    3,699
    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit2941 View Post
    The key is to book stuff that you can cancel or transfer.

    I never book a prepay rental car. The minuscule savings isnít worth it. I book a pay at the counter reservation and keep checking it since the price fluctuates. When I find it lower I either modify my reservation or cancel and rebook depending on the car company.

    For flights, Southwest allows the most flexibility for changes or cancellations. If you cancel you get a voucher for the full value of your flight to be used within one year. If you use their credit card or otherwise book on credit card points (such as transferring chase ultimate rewards points to southwest) you get all the points back and they never expire.

    Whenever we go to South Tahoe we always stay in one of the casinos which let you cancel same day or the day before. So we were able to cancel our whole trip without penalty.
    That's also what I've been doing.

    On both rental car and hotel, there's also the risk of flights getting delayed and missing the first day. Having a reservation that can be cancelled the same day allows for that hiccup. At some destination, that's hard to do, especially if lodging options are limited. But for Tahoe, that's usually doable without costing extra.

    Southwest is a good option but it doesn't always have the best flight schedule. I'm willing to eat the $200 cancellation penalty if the snow condition is truly bad. As long as I don't have too much non-refundable outlay on lodging, that lost is acceptable.

  3. #33
    I agree with most of that. Only thing is when booking with miles often the early bird get the worm. Been on a number of trips where friends had to use more miles or pay outright since they couldn't commit early. Also the earlier you book.the more likely they are to change the schedule which can get you a refund.

  4. #34

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    Mar 2008
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    Booking early is fine. Just mind the cancellation conditions.


  5. #35

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaytrem View Post
    I agree with most of that. Only thing is when booking with miles often the early bird get the worm. Been on a number of trips where friends had to use more miles or pay outright since they couldn't commit early. Also the earlier you book.the more likely they are to change the schedule which can get you a refund.
    I find this to be very airline dependent, and it applies to both miles or the cash price. With Southwest the prices are always moving both up and down, so you can often rebook and get a lower rate. Over the last couple years we’ve flown United and JetBlue a lot, and I can’t remember a time when the price got lower after booking.

  6. #36
    i book my western trips well in advance every year. its a dice roll, but it makes it affordable. i've been badly burned in tahoe once, and won't book tahoe far out again. i was almost burned in utah one xmas, but thanks to max or ikon (cant remember which year it was) a drive to big sky saved the trip.

    we booked our recent utah jaunt in september. we secured 3 nights at the lodge at snowbird for 5 people for $1400 total (steep but ski in/out and split 5 ways - would have been steeper or unavailable had we waited). but we really crushed it on the airbnbs. our BCC airbnb was a mile from the base of solitude and cost $400 for two nights. our powmow airbnb was 10 minutes from powmow and cost $300 for two nights. our first night was an SLC hotel on a friends points. so we had 9 nights of prime utah lodging for 3-6 people (our group size fluctuated thru the week) for $2100. not possible if we waited longer. flights well in advance were $340, and that was with an upgrade to emergency exit row for the redeye home.

    its a risk but it makes it affordable, and utah in mid feb should generally be a fairly safe bet.

    my colorado trip for xmas was booked in august. we stayed at a super nice 2 bed airbnb condo for 7 nights over xmas break for $750. again, that deal would have disappeared if we waited.

    in the east i only book hotels that can be cancelled up to the almost last minute.
    Last edited by KustyTheKlown; Feb 20, 2020 at 11:33 AM.

  7. #37

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Lower Hudson Valley
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    I rarely know my winter vacation schedule till sometime in January. So my "prime season" booking only have 6 week to 2 month lead time. Doesn't often give me a huge discount.

    I usually have some idea what the "normal" flight cost is like. So if I like the price, I book. If not, I wait.

    Hotels are more complicated. Some places (typically ski-in/out) are in such strong demand it has to be booked as soon as possible to be even doable.

    Though thankfully, by early Jan, I have SOME idea of how the season will shape up. Base depth etc. So I know I'll be skiing rather than rock climbing, even if it's less than fantastic condition.

    I've had several occasions I had to bail. A couple years back, Colorado trip for Christmas. There's no natural snow whatsoever. So I bailed. I lost one night hotel plus the airline change fee. But since I never pre-pay rental car, there was no lose there. Another time I had to change the date due to work obligation. Fortunately that time, it was on Southwest so I got to use the money on a different trip (for all the "greatness" of Southwest, sometimes their prices were so high it's cheaper to fly with another airline -- provided I know I'll be able to use the credit on a different trip later)

    Bottom line, weight the saving of discount against the penalty of cancellation.

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit2941 View Post
    I find this to be very airline dependent, and it applies to both miles or the cash price. With Southwest the prices are always moving both up and down, so you can often rebook and get a lower rate. Over the last couple years weíve flown United and JetBlue a lot, and I canít remember a time when the price got lower after booking.
    I'm pretty much all United with a bit of Alaska Airlines here and there. Too bad Southwest left Newark. Was planning on using them for Denver this year. United worked out okay though. When using miles with United it does seem like they have only X number of cheap miles seats available for certain cities (Jackson Hole and Bozeman). I've booked both of those on the first possible booking day. They have made some changes to their mileage system though, so not sure if that's still true. I have noticed you can get round trip to Denver for less than 20,000 miles these days, that was never possible in past years.

  9. #39

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    Denver is cheap. Lots of flights on United out of Newark and LaGuardia. We went to Winter Park for a 4 day weekend last month, the 23rd-27th. The flight schedules worked out best with our work schedules to fly out of LaGuardia, United on the way out and Southwest on the way back. United was 9072 points, Southwest was 6790. And I booked it on 1/5, a couple weeks before the trip.

    4 nights in a condo for $640 split 3 ways, best price was right on winter parks site. 4wd SUV for $305 total. Using points for airfare and the ikon passes we bought last spring made it cheap trip.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit2941 View Post
    We went to Winter Park for a 4 day weekend last month, the 23rd-27th.
    Ahhh, I was right behind you, flew out on the 24th. Used Thank You points, the flights were nice and cheap. Didn't get to Winter Park until the 1st. Unfortunately I was sick as a dog by then. Picked up the flu, still not 100%.

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