Did you know that tomorrow (the last Tuesday of January) is National Plan for Vacation Day? It is a day that is meant to encourage Americans to plan their time off for the whole year at the start of the year. It is a fight against unused vacation days and burnout, spearheaded by the US Travel Association. As a mom, planning a family vacation most likely falls to you, so today we have a guest post from Christina Vieira, the founder and lead travel planner at Showcase the World Travel, a modern travel agency for overwhelmed families. Christina lives is Danvers and is mom to 4-year-old, Annabelle. Keep reading for all the great tips you need to make your family’s next vacation magical!
When it comes to planning, there is no “too soon”. There is always something going on like work, school, extra-curricular activities, and budget goals. In order to ensure the best trip, planning helps you relax and leaves more time for fun!
We’re here to help you answer the most asked question when it comes to travel:
How far in advance should I plan my trip?
Here are a few helpful things to consider to answer this question!
Destination: For international travel, we recommend booking flights farther in advance, ideally around 6 months prior to departure date. For domestic travel, 4 months should be generally enough time to secure and finalize travel.
The longer and more important your trip, the earlier you should start planning. Whenever possible, beginning planning 6-12 months in advance will give you time to find the best prices on airfare, lodging, and activities without the stress.
If you’re planning a shorter, more spontaneous trip, don’t panic! Planning 1-3 months in advance should be plenty for less elaborate and inexpensive getaways.
Lodging: We recommend generally booking lodging 9-18 months in advance. Depending on where you plan to stay, certain types of lodging may sell out over a year in advance and require additional planning. This includes national park lodges, beach houses, and large multi-family rentals.
Booking lodging is truly a case where the early bird gets the worm! The best places, those in the best location for the best price, will always sell out first. Of course, there are always alternatives but they may be farther away or cost more.
Season: Seasons are a significant factor when it comes to booking, as many destinations are seasonal and get booked months in advance. For example, a summer trip to Greece will need to be planned about a year in advance because the summer is the peak of their tourist season. Holidays, like Christmas and New Years, are also very popular travel times and often require more planning time.
Here are some busy times and when we recommend reaching out to your travel agent.
February Vacation – Begin planning in May/June
Spring Break – Begin planning in August/September
Easter/ April Vacation – A year in advance
Summer – For Europe and US National Parks/ Beaches begin planning in December/January. For Disney or All Inclusive Caribbean you can begin planning in March/April
Fall Break- Begin planning in January/ February
Holidays – A year or more in advance
Budget: Planning ahead is also very helpful when it comes to limiting excess spending and incorporating cost into your budget ahead of time. The general trend for travel cost is that prices will often increase as you get closer to departure. This includes flights, resorts, and cruise pricing. We recommend enabling price trackers on flights and cruises so you can ensure you are getting the best deal for your trip!
The best time to plan your vacation is always as soon as possible. There is no benefit in waiting when you decide you want to go. One of the greatest ways to make sure you are always ahead of the game is to build a relationship with a travel advisor. Let them know your bucket list and they will help you fit the right destinations into the right time in your calendar. I love helping my travelers balance their travel dreams with their budgets and spacing out those big ticket trips with smaller getaways.
Of course, you can have a great time no matter how far in advance you plan. If you are a last minute planner you need to make sure you are flexible. There is a very good chance your first choice of destination, resort, flights, dining reservations may not be available but it is a great opportunity to try and explore new things.
Visit this post for my tips on planning a last minute trip.
About the Author:
Christina Vieira is the founder and lead travel planner at Showcase the World Travel, a modern travel agency for overwhelmed families. She has planned hundreds of trips for parents of young children who need a break from the busy. With a degree in Events Management from Suffolk University and 6 years planning marketing events and managing sales team travel she has always loved handling all the often forgotten details. She is widely regarded by the Disney and Family Travel Industry for her unique planning processes and use of modern technology. She has won Travel Weekly Magellan awards for Travel Agent Innovation and Travel Agent Business Strategies. She is a member of the Family Travel Association, American Society of Travel Advisors and was honored to attend the Future Leaders in Travel Summit. She believes vacation is where families really thrive, kids grow to love learning and our best memories are made. She started Showcase the World Travel to help busy Moms who don’t have time to plan-it-all finally take a vacation she doesn’t have to worry about and the whole family can enjoy, for a change.