The calendar can be your ally when you're planning travel in an era when hotel prices are expected to be high for the foreseeable future.

People love to go to New York City in the fall, but they're appalled by the hotel rates. However, there are certain times in NY that are cheap, according to a new study from Hotwire.com and USA Today.

Try going after the first of the year in January or February. Few tourists go then and the rates are at the lowest. The Fourth of July is another great time to go.

When it comes to Las Vegas, the cheapest prices are found through the summer when it's boiling hot -- barring a giant convention being in town. My wife and I go during the summer and have gotten good rooms for under $40 a night.

For a lot of other big cities, the lowest rates are from October through March and the highest rates are in the summer.

These patterns really matter. I know most people find a deal on airfare and then start looking for a hotel. But remember that airlines are required to allow you a full refund on tickets within 24 hours of when you buy them. Use that 24-hour period -- and not a minute more -- to shop for the other elements of your trip.

If you don't find a deal, it's no harm, no foul; you call and get a refund. They can't charge you a penny for that. And if you do find a hotel deal, well, then you've got a deal all around!

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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