One of the questions I am frequently asked is regarding the timing for planning a trip. The answer is…. It depends. And in the crazy times we are in, it is even more challenging to assess when to do what, but here are a few things to keep in mind.
There are times when trips can be scheduled, planned, and booked in very little time before you wish to travel. Long weekends, off-season getaways, dates that can be very flexible, or trips that are not tied to any location or property specifically can sometimes be put together in relatively short order. I’m always happy to help assist with this type of travel.
However, there are many instances where you may need to begin 12 months or more in advance of your trip, and this is becoming more common than you think. Due to factors such as the pent up demand for travel, it may actually move closer to two years in some cases. Here are several factors that come into play that will help you determine when to begin planning your trip.
The first factor is the number of people that will be traveling with you. Is your trip going to be a group of friends, or a multigenerational trip with more than six people? If you need to book accommodations for multiple rooms at a hotel, it is important to get an early start. Villas and house rentals are popular for big groups, and your chances of finding the perfect-sized property in the best location are always going to be better when you plan far in advance of your trip.
The second factor that you need to consider is the time of year in which you plan to travel. Certain seasons are always going to be busy. Some examples include:
Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday traveling- Holiday trips are often booked a year ahead, and the best resorts in warm destinations will likely be full far in advance of your trip.
Spring break- this is another time to plan far ahead. Any time a large number of people are targeting the same few weeks for vacation, the earlier you book, the better.
Summer- this has always been the most popular time for families to travel. Again, the earlier you plan, the better, especially if you'd like to travel to Europe. June and July is the time most families want to visit Europe and August is the time when many Europeans take their own vacations. Be aware that if you're traveling during these 3 months, popular destinations are likely to be crowed.
Keep in mind also that in the Southern Hemisphere our winter is their summer. The kids are off for their summer holidays during our winter months.
The third to consider is restricted access in your destination. Does your trip involve something where there is more demand than supply? Some examples are:
Small luxury hotels or unique properties or experiences such as a castle stay, or over-the-water bungalows
Small safari camps limit the number of guests so that each one will experience more animals than people (the preferred way to do it)
Visiting The Galapagos Islands, cruises to Antarctica or Alaska, or cruises with small ships with few passengers or fewer departures. Keep in mind that many tours, especially in Alaska, sometimes book faster than cabins.
Any trip that will include key elements, such as rare experiences, or time-specific celebrations, festivals, or events. For example, if you want to travel to see The Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria, Germany (which is only performed every 10 years), you will need to plan several years ahead.
Once your dates are booked on that dream trip, do you need to book every part of the trip at the same time? Not necessarily. Sometimes I will wait several months for the right time to book other components, such as air, ground transportation, and experiences. It’s an art, not a science, and working with a professional helps eliminate your stress of trying to figure it all out on your own. Luckily, studies have shown that the anticipation of the trip is half the fun! I love to provide my clients with information on their destination of choice, so with a longer wait time, there’s more time to enjoy it!