One thing we encounter A LOT in the travel industry is folks who want to take a last minute trip for the holidays. With enough planning and time, Thanksgiving and Christmas travel can go off without a hitch, but the closer one gets to the holiday, the more money and luck is required to make that perfect getaway happen. Trips that you’d expect to cost $1500 can cost upwards of $2500 if you wait too long to make your plans for decking the halls and making things merry and bright.
Here are a few things you want to take into consideration when planning your next holiday based trip.
International vs. Domestic
There are some key factors you want to consider when deciding whether you’re going to travel internationally or if you’re going to stay stateside. Want to spend New Year’s Eve on safari in South Africa? Are you up-to-date on your Typhoid vaccinations? How about Diphtheria and Hepatitis A? Will your passport be valid for at least six months past your proposed travel dates? Vaccinations and passport requirements are just two of the things you need to think about when planning your holiday travel outside of the country. Each foreign country has its own specific requirements for entrance that you may not be able to fulfill if you plan a last minute trip.
Want a perfect Christmas holiday in the outback, complete with kangaroos in Santa hats? If your perfect version of Christmas Day includes snow, think carefully about where you want to go. After all, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere over Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day! Holiday travel is the high season on steroids, anyway, but when you travel to the Southern Hemisphere you’re combining holiday and summer breaks.
If you’re planning an international trip, think about booking 12-15 months in advance, but absolutely don’t try to plan something international with less than 9 months!
Airlines work on supply and demand. They release rates about 9 months ahead of flight times using yield management systems, or algorithms that price every airline ticket according to supply and demand. Prices are usually best in this 9 month timeframe, and after that the algorithms begin to constantly adjust prices up and down depending on how quickly tickets sell. Group sales and local competition are two other factors that affect airfare every day. Do not wait until the fall to book your tickets to visit Aunt Irma in upstate New York for Thanksgiving, unless you really want to pay double for your ticket, regardless of destination. Price isn’t the only issue affecting air travel over the holiday season. The longer you procrastinate the less availability there is, unless you’re alright with paying $1,200 for that plane ticket with two barely legal connections that’ll leave you sprinting through the Chicago airport, only to realize your flight has been delayed due to snow.
For domestic travel, I’d recommend booking right in that 9 month window. You’ll get the best flight prices and there will still be hotel availability.
So your parents planned a trip to Montana to spend the holidays in style at Triple Creek Ranch. What a fun Christmas it’s going to be! When you booked your flights you chose a connection through Minneapolis and into Bozeman on a glorified puddle jumper. With a blizzard pounding the Midwest, you can’t even get off the ground in Raleigh and now all of your Christmas plans have gone by the wayside. The travel advisors at Maupin know which airports to avoid when planning travel in potential extreme weather situations.
If cross-country travel is in the books for your holiday, leave the planning to a professional and give us plenty of time to find the best route and pricing option for you. The same amount of notice goes for travel through areas potentially affected by weather: at least 9 months is best.
Watching the ball drop in Times Square has been on your bucket list since you were a kid, and now you’ve got the opportunity to whisk your own children up to New York and see the excitement of New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple through their eyes. … except you can’t find a hotel to accommodate your family of five for the full twelve nights you’ll be in town. Hotels often have both minimum and maximum stays for the holiday season. In addition to these requirements, suites and family accommodations book up faster than anything else. If you wait until September to book that perfect New York City New Year’s Eve, well, good luck watching the ball drop from New Jersey.
For popular destinations, especially those with specific holiday programming, book 10-12 months in advance for the best availability, rates, and amenities.