I’ve always been more of book-last-minute kind of traveler, but recently I’m discovering the real benefits and savings that can come from booking further in advance.
I think my reluctance to book more than a few months in advance stems from a few things:
- I have a strong tendency to procrastinate
- I am trying to be responsible and spend only the 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 fabulous, intrepid traveler when my trips are planned somewhat spontaneously
- I like to hedge my bets and keep my options open
This year, at least, booking 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. The snow was great, we got great savings on our Epic Australia Passes, and we saved about 25% off the accommodation.
With regards to our March trip, we’ve saved heaps on everything. Comparing booking 9 months in advance with our normal 2 months:
- 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 internal flights using frequent flyer points so we saved the entire cost of the flights (about $350 per person).
- We were able to use the fiancé’s hotel points to pay for one night’s accommodation at the Fairmont (it will be our honeymoon after all). Savings will be 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 didn’t think it was going 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 you’ll be able to take another trip with the savings (a benefit for anyone with wanderlust), you can get real benefits from knowing you have a trip planned.
For one thing, there is less stress involved with the actual planning and saving for the trip. Also, having holidays booked is excellent stress relief in itself. I’m finding is that having the trip planned has given me something major 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 also gives you goals to work towards and 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 for small fee or sometimes for free (at a slightly higher per night rate). This allows you to still change your mind last minute if a better trip comes up with little to no consequences. And, more than likely you’ll have been so excited about the trip you know you have planned you won’t be changing anyway.