How far in advance should you book your Christmas vacation?

June just started and while it may seem terribly early to be thinking about Christmas, believe it or not, in terms of planning a vacation for Christmas week– you’re actually running late.  We recently had to tell Andrew that his otherwise very nice sized budget for his family of 6 is no where near where it needs to be since at this “late” date, airfare was running about $1000 each to Mexico and the Caribbean.

punta_cana_001Typically is it too late to book your vacation just a month or 2 ahead of departure?  Well…….. a lot depends on where you want to go and what your budget is.  We were able to book a Memorial Day Weekend vacation to Naples, Florida for clients just 3 weeks out but in many cases, we won’t be able to assign seats on the planes or even get decent flights if you wait that long.

What is a good rule of thumb about when should you book your vacation?

My Vacation Lady will typically suggest 6-9 months out for land based vacations and even a bit longer for cruises.

There are always exceptions to every rule though…

  • If you are booking a holiday vacation (Christmas, Easter, President’s week), think about the school calendar.
    • The best time to book Christmas would be before Easter vacation.
    • The best time to book Spring Break would be the beginning of school.
    •  For President’s week, consider booking around the end of the school year.
  • If you are booking a honeymoon, it depends on the time of year you want to travel and your destination.  Sometimes we can book the hotels before the pricing for flights are available but the 6-9 month rule typically applies to honeymoons too.
  • If you are booking a Destination Wedding, the sooner the better.  Your guests will need time to save.  Eighteen months is a good plan for Destination Weddings.
  • If you are booking a Disney Vacation, prices typically come out in July for the following year, so you can only book Disney vacation packages through the end of 2016 now.  Come July 2016, you should be able to book 2017 Disney vacation packages.
  • Cruise schedules usually come out in March or April for the next 18 months or so.  When you see a cruise promotion that you’re happy with, book it.  Most are capacity controlled and many will be for new bookings only but the caveat is that you get to pick your cabin and lock it in for a relatively small deposit.

So what happens if you book at the last minute?

  • Contrary to popular belief, the best deals are usually no longer available.  You might be able to get a great deal on a hotel room or a cruise cabin but what about the flights?
  • When you book last minute, IF we can assign seats on a plane for you, it may be the middle seats and may not be together.  In many instances, we can’t assign seats at all and you will have to either upgrade to the premium (extra legroom seats) or hope for seats at the airport.
  • Cruise cabins– what may be left a few weeks out?  It would be a pretty good chance that it will be all the way up front, all the way in the back or right next to the elevator.
  • Last minute hotel deals— are they really a great deal?  Run of house means anywhere in the hotel– from overlooking the parking lot to the presidential suite.  If you book 3 weeks out, do you think you’ll get the presidential suite?
  • Honeymoons– do you want to get “leftovers” for your once in a lifetime vacation?  Booking early means we can lock in the hotel and room category that you really want rather than whatever is left.

Planning ahead is the key!

While we have honeymooners calling us to book for next summer, we have to tell them that prices probably won’t be available until October, but we love that they are thinking ahead.

What is that old expression— the early bird gets the worm?  Same holds true with planning your vacation.  The early planners get choices!

Let My Vacation Lady help plan your dream vacation or honeymoon.   We’ll let you know when the best time to start planning would be.  Even if it’s too early to book, it’s never to early to dream!


By |June 3rd, 2016|Categories: All|Tags: , , |Comments Off on How far in advance should you book your Christmas vacation?

About the Author:

Mindy Gilbert of My Vacation Lady has been helping clients, just like you, plan their dream vacations, cruises and honeymoons since 1994.