By Wendy Perrin, Condé Nast Traveler
How did it get to be March already?! Before you get too busy with your March To Do List, here are six things smart travelers should consider doing this month. The time is right to:
1. Scoop up the best seats for the Super Bowl
Most sports fans are so distracted by "March Madness" and trying to get last-minute tickets to the NCAA Final Four in Dallas or the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta that they forget that this month is when the NFL's On Location packages are typically released. These offer prime seats and sell out almost immediately. The packages should be released within the next 7 to 14 days. For access to the best seat locations, reach out to Jim Zissler of Inside Sports & Entertainment Group.
2. Book your spring airfares within the U.S. and your summer airfares overseas
"Folks should definitely be shopping for late May/early June domestic trips right now, and also for transoceanic flights for late June through late July," says Rick Seaney of FareCompare, whose fare alerts notify you by email the instant that fares drop.
3. Redeem your USAirways miles for travel on Star Alliance partner airlines
This is your last opportunity, as USAirways will leave the Star Alliance on March 30 and join Oneworld on March 31. The Star Alliance has many more mileage-award seats available to Europe and Asia, points out mileage expert Gary Leff, whereas Oneworld has more seat availability to South America.
4. Snap up a last-minute ski deal
Deals are rampant in late March and early April--even over spring break--but the best late-season powder is at resorts a little farther north and at higher elevation. Think Keystone or Snowmass, in Colorado; Banff and Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies; or even Squaw Valley, California, which normally receives a large amount of snow late in the season.
5. Consider a Mediterranean or Alaska cruise in May or early June
March is when cruise lines run the steepest discounts on these particular sailings. Yesterday Alaska cruise prices dropped to $499 per person and Mediterranean cruises to $489 per person, says cruise expert Tom Baker of Cruise Center. If you're hoping for a European river cruise, though, forget it; they filled up months ago. Book those now for 2015.
6. Book your beach resort for Christmas/New Year's
The best properties in the Caribbean and Hawaii fill up nine months ahead or more, with resorts giving first preference to returning guests. There are key dates during the year when rooms can open up, though, as deposits become due and cancellation penalties set in. If the hotel you want is already fully booked, ask when deposits are due and on what date cancellation fees kick in for the date you want to arrive, then call back on those days to scoop up a room that somebody else just cancelled. Or use a well-connected travel agent who has close relationships with the managers of the finest properties.