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Booking Travel Early: why it makes sense (and cents)

With the trend of last minute bookings becoming more and more popular, it's important to remember the benefits of not waiting until the last minute to plan your next trip.

While it requires more advance planning (and then sticking to those plans), often the earlier you book your trip, the better off you can be.

Here are some important things to remember.

Booking early can often save you money:
Many escorted travel programs have special pricing, or special benefits, reserved for guests who book well ahead of the departure date.

Early bookings help the tour operator manage demand and inventory, and they will often provide perks—either a cost savings or special features—to those who reserve first.

If traveling on your own and booking directly with a hotel or cruise line, make sure to find out about their pricing adjustment policy, in case you discover a special deal offered after you have made your reservation, so you know you won’t overpay.

Ensuring your accommodations:
Booking well ahead of time often gives you the best selection of ship cabins and/or hotel rooms (plus the best locations of each), and optional excursions to choose from.

When booking, remember to ask about your options if you need to change or cancel the reservation. Trip insurance can really help here, especially if it includes cancel-for-any-reason coverage. Know what options you have and the timelines and deadlines for each.

Purchasing flights:
Setting up the main portion of your trip early allows you to shop, and purchase, good air options. For domestic flights, it's recommended to purchase flights anywhere between 2-9 months prior to your departure date. For international flights, it's suggested to book anywhere between 4-10 months. But remember, these time frames can vary wildly depending on the actual destination. And it's important to note that some destinations have peak or short seasons where booking air further out from the departure date is recommended.

Talk to your tour operator about recommended flights, including the best arrival and departure times. Booking early can often get you the most direct flights, to and from the airports that are most convenient, and most economical.

Planning stress-free:
Confirming your primary travel details well in advance gives you time to coordinate other important details that can make traveling feel hectic. For example, is your passport up to date? Did you schedule kennel boarding for your pet? Do you have the appropriate luggage, clothing, and immunizations (if needed) for your destination?

Having the time to work slowly through these items over months, not days, makes trip preparation much smoother and less stressful.

All set? Now you have the time to happily look ahead and anticipate that wonderful trip you are about to take.