Get Wired for Short-fuse Sales. If you want to catch the best deals in 2012, you have to be wired. And you have to ask for the deals by signing up for various notifications. Purchase windows are getting shorter all the time. Last year saw the rapid growth of online "flash sale" agencies; now, both established large online travel agencies and major suppliers are bypassing specialist outlets and running their own flash sales. I keep getting press releases about one-day and other very short promotions -- and they often provide some of the best deals of the year.
Use the New Tech. I believe that 2012 will be a breakout year for VOIP calls by international travelers. Currently, MagicJack Plus is promoting no-charge calls to/from overseas locations over the Internet with its small, portable device. I've seen a number of smartphone apps that come close to the ideal that will come to fruition in 2012: allowing you to access the Internet and make calls to/from anywhere in the world without using the wireless phone networks at all at thus not using any expensive online voice or data minutes. Finally, you can forget about outrageous roaming charges or having to buy or rent a special overseas wireless phone.
If you don't already have a Kindle, tablet, or other e-reader, get one. Then you can forget about schlepping a pile of paperbacks for a trip or paying inflated prices at airport bookstores. A special advantage: If you've ever used up your stack of English language paperbacks while overseas, you'll appreciate the ability simply to download as many more books as you want anywhere you are.
Travel for Yourself, not "Travelers." If you're wondering about where to go or what to do next year, those lists of where everybody else is going are really no help at all. The most useful destination lists are those that identify where something special will take place or something new will open in 2012 -- SmarterTravel's Christine Sarkis prepared a good list last week -- including places featuring a special interest you'd like to take in (such as the Netherlands' Floriade) and those hosting events you'd like to avoid (London Olympics).
Ignore those predictions of what "travelers" will do next year and where they'll go. Do you really care what destinations are "hot" or "hip," whatever the writers mean in those vaporous terms? The truth is that the destinations don't change much from year to year; what changes is mostly hype.
Ditto those solemn pronouncements about whether fares and rates will go up or down. You can't change what happens in the broad marketplace, so your focus should be on finding the best possible deals at whatever the prevailing price levels might be.
Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com