By Carlo Versano
If you're eyeing the coming year for that big vacation you've been meaning to take, gird yourself for higher prices.
Flight and hotel prices are edging up around three percent on average, according to Mark Ellwood of Condé Nast Traveler, due in part to higher fuel and labor costs, more long-haul trips, and good old-fashioned supply and demand.
"When you're booking that big bucket-list trip, you gotta plan ahead," Ellwood told Cheddar.
To save money on flights, Ellwood stands by his favorite booking sites: Airfarewatchdog.comand Scottscheapflights.com, which allow users to plug in routes and timeframes and sit back and wait for alerts about sales. This year, he's also adding nextvacay.com to his recommendations, a relatively new member-only site that allows users to put in their home airport and gets deals to far-flung places.
Those big-ticket vacations are becoming more popular among millennials, who tend to spend money on experiences over products.
When booking hotels, Ellwood said the industry is paying more attention to personalized service ー remembering that you like a room far from the elevator, for instance. That's why he always recommends guests sign up for hotel loyalty programs, even if they don't know if they will ever stay at that hotel again. "It indicates to them that you might be a long-term loyalist, and they'll start learning what you like."