Is summer the most popular time of the year to travel? It would appear so, if current statistics are to be believed. In the EU, travel demand peaks in August but slows in January. And, in the United States, the busiest travel months are June, July, and August. Unlike the winter months, when plans revolve around holiday events, summer is primarily focused on fun and relaxation.
Whether you're planning a domestic or international trip, getting a jump start on your vacation plans can save you time, money, and hassle. Below, we reveal the four top reasons for booking your summer getaway now.
You Have a Higher Chance of Getting Better Lodging
Many travel experts book the best hotel deal they can find and then scout for last-minute deals. So, you'll start by choosing a hotel offering the perks you want at a price you're willing to pay. According to Trivago, breakfast is the number one perk most travelers look for in a hotel. A pool comes second and Wi-Fi a close third. Let's say you book a hotel that offers a full breakfast and Wi-Fi.
After booking your stay, you check out the last-minute deals at a site like HotelTonight a week before your trip. If you don't see what you want at an affordable price, you have your first booking to fall back on. Whatever you do, make sure your first booking is refundable, in case you decide to cancel.
If you aren't overly concerned about where you'll stay, booking can wait. However, when it comes to securing in-demand lodging, early booking is imperative. According to a report by HomeAway, a house-sharing website similar to Airbnb, January is the best time to book for summer stays. By April 1, many of the summer rentals have been booked. So, if you have your eye on a quaint beach-side bungalow, you may want to go ahead and book it before another traveler snags it.
You'll Find the Best Prices for International Travel
With domestic travel within the United States, you'll find the best deals around one month out from your trip, but many international destinations call for more advanced bookings. According to Travel and Leisure, trips booked three to five months in advance could save you up to 23%. For a trip to Moscow, booking four to seven months in advance could save you up to 55% on hotels. Meanwhile, booking just two months in advance could save you 40% on a hotel room in Dubai.
When it comes to flights, purchasing a ticket to Europe will be the most affordable around 99 days before the flight. Meanwhile, tickets to Mexico, Canada, and Central America will be cheapest approximately 60 days before. If you're planning to travel to the Caribbean, South America, or Asia, it's best to book your trip between 76 to 90 days ahead of time. Africa and the Middle East require the most planning, with the cheapest airfare to these destinations available four months ahead of the flight.
It's also a good idea to keep a lookout for any flash sales or bundle deals on international travel. Bear in mind that some airlines offer special promotions for tourists. Icelandair, for example, is well-known for providing cheap flights to the Land of the Midnight Sun.
You'll Have More Time to Save If You Book Ahead
Making a budget for your summer vacation can be a huge undertaking. Not only do you have to consider the cost of lodging and plane tickets, but you'll also need to budget for daily expenses like food, venue entrance fees, and transportation. If you book your trip well in advance, you'll have a better idea of how much you'll need for your trip. Plus, you'll have a lot more time to save for expenses.
Instead of scrambling to raise funds a few weeks before leaving, you can set up a budgeting plan and leverage money management tools to save. Apps like Digit and Qapital make the saving process seamless. If you want to take your budget to the next level, USA Today shows you how to estimate the cost of your trip and minimize any unexpected expenses.
Of course, you can make a savings plan regardless of when you book your trip. However, having clear goals in mind is imperative. For example, if you're planning to catch a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, you may forgo that extra latte at the mall. Plus, if you've signed up for Digit, the app's sophisticated algorithms will already know your spending habits and have put away the optimum amount into your Digit savings account each day. Little savings add up over time, so you can enjoy greater flexibility during your vacation.
You'll Actually Have Something to Look Forward To
If you're trying to make it through the drudgery of an extended winter, having a summer vacation planned can really give you something to look forward to. Research has shown that experiences provide greater happiness than material possessions. And, more studies are showing that even the anticipation of those experiences can infuse happiness into your life.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies says that there are four stages for enjoying a happy event: anticipation, savoring, expression, and reflection. She explains that anticipation leads to what's called "rosy prospection" and can sometimes provide greater happiness than the experience itself.