Summer is gone and that can only mean one thing: the holidays are around the corner. While it might send chills down your spine to see holiday decorations in the stores already, now is really the time to start thinking about your holiday plans. That's especially true if you are going to be traveling. AAA reports that almost one hundred million people will take a road trip over the Christmas holidays, while more than six million will end up flying. So if you want to beat the rush, the time to book your tickets, hotels, and excursions is now. Here are some more good reasons you need to plan your holiday travel sooner rather than later:
It Really is Cheaper
Yes, this is the most obvious reason, but it's so true that it's worth mentioning. You really do get a better price on your holiday travel when you book it as far in advance as possible. In fact, a lot of airlines will release their holiday-time tickets in the summer, and snapping them up them can net you some hefty savings.
If you haven't purchased your tickets or booked your hotel yet, though, there is still time to get a great deal. CNN reports that September is a great time to buy your Christmas airfare. Ticket sales usually drop off after the summer vacation season when airlines are looking to boost their cash flow. Typically, airfare starts to sharply increase for the next holiday when the last one passes. For instance, Christmas airfare gets more expensive after Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving flights will see a big jump after Halloween. So try planning at least six weeks in advance for the best deals.
You'll Get the Best Selection
The earlier you are, the better your selection is going to be on just about everything. When you are booking flights, getting in there early means you'll have the most options for flight times. So you might get a good deal without forcing yourself to get on that red-eye flight. You'll also have the most options for seating on the plane. So if you hate sitting in the middle or need an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs, booking early gives you the best chance of scoring that premium seat.
The early bird gets the worm when it comes to hotels, too. Some hotels in popular holiday destinations book up a year in advance, so waiting too long means you could end up in your last choice hotel miles away from the action. Don't fret if you put off making a decision about your hotel arrangements, though. According to Travel and Leisure, hotels often slash their prices for Christmas during the week of Thanksgiving. That means you can grab a great deal while enjoying turkey leftovers.
You'll Have a Better Chance of Getting Time Off at Work
According to USA Today, more Americans are working over the holidays. Bosses will require about 1/4 of the workforce to show up on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you want to be one of the lucky ones with time off, you'll need to book it now. With millions of people traveling, that means millions are taking time off of work. And there is a good chance a lot of people at your place of employment want time off during the holidays, too. Beat the holiday time off crunch by scheduling your vacation as early as possible. That's especially true in the service industry, where having enough staff is vital to meet the demands of holiday shoppers and diners. The earlier you know when you'll be traveling, the earlier you can get those time off requests approved.
It's Easier to Find Pet and House Sitters
If only travel were as easy as buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel. There are so many other things to arrange before you roll your suitcase out the door. And if you can arrange these items sooner, you can take your pre-travel stress down a notch. Two of the biggest items for many travelers are booking a house or pet sitter during their vacation. These services often book up months in advance due to high demand. Knowing when you'll need them means you can contact your preferred providers and get on their holiday calendar as early as possible.
Rover.com recommends booking your preferred pet sitter up to four months in advance. Even if you don't know your exact dates of travel yet, giving your pet sitter some preliminary dates can help them keep a spot available for you. The last thing you want is to get near your vacation and realize you have no one who can look after your pet. This could lead to some expensive cancellations (and a very disappointing holiday season).
You'll Have More Time to Save
Holiday travel can take a big bite out of your budget. It's not just the airfare and hotels that can empty your bank account, either. If you are planning on doing any gift shopping, then you'll need to plan for even more expenses. But you can soften the blow to your wallet by making your travel plans early. Booking early will allow you to start setting aside money for some of those expenses months in advance. If you put something on your credit card, you may even be able to get it paid off before you set off. That's setting yourself up for guilt-free travel over the busy holiday season. Giving yourself more time to save is the perfect way to ensure you can do everything you want during your holiday travels. And you won't have to worry too much about the financial aftershocks.
One of the best parts of a good vacation is looking forward to it. When you book your holiday travel now, you'll have a few months to enjoy all the build-up to the big event. Plus, you'll be able to enter the busy (and sometimes stressful!) holiday season knowing that all your travel is set up, so you only have to sit back and get into the holiday spirit. Make the most of the holiday season and start making your travel plans today.