Here is a question I get asked all the time. "Should we wait until closer to our travel dates to book our travel so we can get last minute deals? The answer is a resounding “No!” Your vacation time and money is precious and should be a reflection of your personal preferences. Booking last minute will leave you with the “bottom of the barrel” travel choices. Here are just a few reasons why you should NOT wait until the last minute to book your travel.
The most desirable hotels and rooms get booked in advance and will be sold out. The resort you choose and the room you stay in will directly affect the vacation experience you have. Resorts rarely discount their rooms for last-minute travelers, so not only are you sacrificing the luxury of choosing your resort, you are likely not saving any money. Instead of waiting for the last minute, book your hotel in advance and look for specials like a stay 3 nights, get the 4th-night free savings opportunity.
Airfare prices increase significantly as you get closer to your travel dates. In the off-chance you are able to find a last-minute travel deal, the cost savings will be lost when you factor in the increased airfare costs. Direct flights and low fares are usually the first to get booked as well. So, last-minute travelers may find themselves over spending and stuck at the airport with lengthy layovers. If you do nothing else, book your airfare at least 6 months in advance.
Cruises DO often have last-minute travel deals, but the best staterooms get sold out well in advance. So, when the cruise line is trying to fill up those remaining vacancies, the rooms that are left are obstructed views, the loud room next to the elevator, or other staterooms that are undesirable in some way. Popular cruise destinations such as Alaska can have entire stateroom categories sold out and waitlisted over a year in advance. If you are planning to go on a cruise, talk to your travel advisor and lock in that stateroom you want before someone else does!
If you wait until the last minute to book your vacation to an exotic destination, you may not have sufficient time to apply for any visas that may be required or update your vaccines should one be recommended for travelers. If you have questions or would like more information about your travel destination you can ask your travel advisor or go to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html.
As you can see, waiting to book your travel until the last minute is not likely to get you any cost savings on your vacation. A good timeline for planning your vacation is 6 months to 1 year in advance of your travel dates. This will give you plenty of options and time to prepare the necessary documentation, and have a great selection of availability.
Plan ahead, make smart choices, and take advantage of savings from bundling your air and hotel or other promotions suppliers are running and don’t forget to HAVE FUN!