Planning a vacation a year in advance may sound extreme, but it can often get you the best rates on hotels, as well as the most options for your trip.
Last year, my family and I took our annual summer beach holiday in a (new-to-us) vacation rental on Cape Cod. We loved its huge and airy kitchen, the pool table off the living room, and the short walk from our favorite beach. In fact, we liked the house so much that, when I went to drop off the keys at the end of the trip, I immediately asked to book the house again for the same week the following year. I had the paperwork and deposits completed by the end of the month, securing our spot for this summer.
Yes, booking a year in advance may sound a little extreme. But for budgeting Grownups, advance planning can really pay off.
Here are just a few reasons when it can be beneficial to make your travel reservations (really) early.
When You’ll Be Traveling During Peak Season
If you’re heading somewhere popular during the busiest travel seasons (e.g., Cape Cod in summer, New York City on New Year’s Eve), it’s always a good idea to secure your accommodations as early as possible. Start tracking other travel — airfare, train tickets, ground transport — early as well, and you can book when you see a price that works with your budget.
When You Want the Most Inventory to Choose From
Booking very early ensures you’ll have the biggest selection of options across airlines, hotels, vacation rentals, and rental cars. You’ll also get the best range of prices available for your upcoming trip.
…Or When There’s One Place You’d Like to Visit Again
Similar to my family’s tactic, there’s no better way to guarantee you’ll get that ideal hotel, beach house, or lakeside cabin than booking it again upon departure (or shortly thereafter). And oftentimes, repeat customers get a deal—I often get a repeat-customer or early-booking discount on my accommodations when I book way in advance.
When You Need to Budget Over Time
In many cases, booking accommodations doesn’t require paying in full at the time of reservation. So by booking early, you can plan for the upcoming expense and budget accordingly, saving over the coming months leading up to your trip. That way, you won’t be socked with a big bill for your hotel all at once.
When You Have to Be There
If I have an upcoming wedding, graduation, or a family reunion, I always like to make my travel reservations early for peace of mind. In many cases (by booking early) I’m able to find an even better rate than, say, a wedding room block or conference rate.
A lifelong bookworm, Sarah spends her days thinking of new ways to tell stories—and on which media to do so.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.