Another question I often get as a travel consultant is: When is the best time to book my vacation? Believe it or not, the answer to this question is simple: Book your vacation when you are comfortable with the price and able to pay the minimum deposit.
Depending on your destination, though, I usually do encourage clients to follow these particular time frames:
- Disney–you must book AT LEAST 180 days out–and I usually encourage about 9 months. At the 180 day mark prior to check in, guests are able to make advance dining reservations, and these fill up FAST!!! If you want to dine at Belle’s Castle, grab a bite at Chef Mickey’s or catch special seating for Fantasmic, then these need to be booked as close to the 180 day mark as possible. By booking 9 months out, you have the ability to tweak itineraries and be set to make your reservations. Better yet, contact me to help you with your vacation–I do all of the work, including your dining reservations and itineraries!
- All-inclusive Family Vacations–although this may depend on your resort of choice, I recommend looking as early as a year out if you want a specific room/room category. If you look back at my post about Turks & Caicos, you will note that we booked over a year in advance. As soon as we returned home, I tried to book the same room for the following year, but it was already sold out. If you are planning to head to an all-inclusive in Summer 2015, you might want to begin looking sooner rather than later.
- All-inclusive Couples Vacations–similar to the family resorts, these tend to fill up quickly, especially during honeymoon season. If you have your heart set on a particular resort or room category, I would highly suggest putting down a deposit to secure your room when you find the one that your want. Most resorts offer refundable deposits up to 45 days prior to departure. You can always add the airfare on later.
- Vacations within the US–for destinations like Las Vegas, Gatlinburg, Miami Beach, Hawaii, etc., time is not such a pressing issue. Normally, I would suggest looking at these destinations around 3-6 months prior to travel. Sooner, though, if you have a specific hotel in mind. Click here to learn about Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
- Cruises–the main issue with cruises is that they have a pre-planned itinerary that you must work around, so you really don’t have the option to just check in on a particular day. This being said, most cruise lines have a large number of ships and cabins available, so booking at about 6 months would be a safe bet. However, if you want to secure a specific cabin or a specific ship, look closer to 9 months out–you will have a greater variety to choose from.
- Airfare–this, my friends, is an anomaly. I have seen prices rise and fall within the same hour, and there really is no telling what airfare rates will do in the coming future. My advice is to book the airfare when you are comfortable with the price–and then stop looking. You can always second guess whether or not you got the best price, but what good will it really do? If you are that concerned about airfare prices dropping, add on a travel protection plan that allows you to price match any drop in rates.
Since these are only guidelines, I’d love to hear more about when you prefer to book travel. Leave me a message in the comments below!