I’ve always been more of book-last-minute kind of traveler, but recently I’m discovering that there are real benefits and savings if you make the effort to lock in parts of your holiday further in advance.
I think I have traditionally been reluctant to book a trip more than a few months prior for a few reasons:
- I have a strong tendency to procrastinate (why do today what you can put off until tomorrow!)
- I try to be responsible and spend only money I actually have (not the money I think I will have) so I wait until it is in my bank to book something
- I feel more like a fabulously exciting traveller when my trips seem planned spontaneously
- I have a tendency to hedge my bets and want to keep my options open (which in hindsight, rarely pays off)
This year, however, booking well in advance was necessary since we are planning everything around our March wedding (which I’m very excited about). We are definitely seeing the payoffs.
As I mentioned in previous posts, our gamble to book early paid off for this year’s ski trip to Perisher. We saved a lot on our Epic Australia Passes, and about 25% on the accommodation. (Considering that ski trips can be expensive, these were real wins.)
For our March trip, we’ve saved heaps on everything by booking early. This time, we booked about 9 months in advance, instead of our normal 2 months. The benefits so far:
- We saved nearly $1000 per person by snagging flights on sale.
- We saved about 40% off our accommodation at two ski resorts on early bird deals.
- We were able to book flights within North America using frequent flyer points meaning we saved the entire cost of the flights (about $350 per person).
- We were able to use my fiancé’s hotel points to pay for one night’s accommodation at a Fairmont (it will be our honeymoon after all). Savings: about $500.
- Oh, and there’s that Epic Australia Pass, which has already paid for itself. Savings: nearly $800 per person.
- Total savings: about $6000!
I am genuinely surprised by that number after doing the sums! I originally didn’t expect to be that much. The savings we’ve managed on this one trip could easily pay for another trip (or part of the wedding). The financial and psychological benefits of saving enough for a second trip should be motivation enough to book early.
There are other benefits to booking earlier. In addition to knowing that you can take a second trip with the savings (a benefit for anyone with wanderlust), you can gain real benefits from the knowledge that you have a trip booked.
For one thing, there is less stress involved with the actual planning. It will also be less stressful to save for the trip since you will have more time to save and less money that needs to be saved. In addition, the knowledge that you have a holiday booked can be its own stress relief. I’m finding that having the trip planned has given me something big to look forward to (of course that and the wedding), making it easier to get through stressful days at work. Having something to look forward to keeps you optimistic about the future.
Based on all the benefits, it is definitely worth booking as far ahead as you can. Flights can be more difficult to change if you have purchased on a sale, but many accommodation options allow cancellations within a certain amount of time, either for small fee or for free. This allows you to still change your mind last minute if a better trip comes up with little to no consequences. More than likely you’ll have gotten so excited about the trip you’ve planned that you won’t change your mind anyway.