Guidelines for When to Book Travel
It’s not a simple question, “When is the best time to book my travel?” There are so many factors to consider when answering that question. Are you booking a cruise or land tour? Are you booking just airfare? What destination are you talking about going to at what time of year?
If you are only booking AIRFARE, air scheduling comes out 330 days in advance. It tends to start fairly high, in hopes that people will book early and pay higher fares. I suggest waiting a month or two, when the prices adjust, UNLESS you are traveling during peak times. Thanksgiving & Christmas Holidays are the one time you might want to book as soon as you know your plans! Definitely do not wait until the last minute, prices will only increase as availability decreases.
This is just the opposite with HOTELS & OCEAN CRUISES. These travel bookings can get less expensive closer to your date of travel as the suppliers try to fill their empty beds. But BEWARE, if you wait to get the lower price, you may also get the lower category of room! If you like a certain type of cruise cabin or hotel room, OR if you have special requests like extra guests in the room or handicap accessibility, book six months in advance.
RIVER CRUISES are completely different! These ships are small, 130-190 passengers only and they book up quickly and well in advance. If you know you want to experience a river cruise, especially a popular itinerary like the Rhine River, book one year in advance to make sure you get the cabin you want. The suppliers also give significant discounts for early booking on these vacations.
ESCORTED TOURS are scheduled on certain dates for a certain number of people. If you know where you want to go and when, book early so that the tour doesn’t fill up. Six months in advance is recommended, unless you’re headed for a destination that limits its visitors, like the Galapagos Islands. Those destinations should be booked a year or more ahead of travel.
Now consider where you want to go and at what time of year. If you want to head to the Caribbean in February over the Presidents’ Holiday, book 9 months to a year ahead. At some popular resorts, you might even consider booking further out than a year.
Spring Break in March is another very popular vacation time in the Caribbean, so booking early will help you save and get you what you want. OR you might consider heading to Europe instead, where it’s low season and you can get great rates a month ahead of time.
Alaska has a limited season, so book early for land resorts. These do tend to sell out early. Cruising has become more popular there, so there are many options with plenty of availability. Finding an Alaskan cruise is not as difficult as an Anchorage hotel, but if you want a part land, part cruise vacation (cruisetour), booking 9 months out is still your best bet.
To feel confident that you are booking your vacation at the best time, use your Travel Professional. They book many clients to multiple destinations and are doing this all day long. They have the information to help you make the best decisions about when to book. So…..what are you waiting for?