When Is the Best Time of Year To Book Travel for the Holidays?

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You might not be thinking about holiday travel yet, but given recent price trends, you probably should be. Americans are eager to travel after skipping trips over the past two years, and everything from flights to hotels to rental cars are booking up earlier than usual.

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GOBankingRates spoke to travel experts about the best time to make all your arrangements for the holidays if you want to get the best deals. Here’s when to book your flights, accommodations and more.

Best Time To Book Flights for the Holidays

Travel blogger Denise Castaneda of Denise Cas typically books international flights three to four months in advance and domestic flights two months in advance but recommends booking even earlier this year.

“Given how expensive flights have been in 2022, I’m anticipating booking out closer to four or five months in advance for international flights and maybe two to three months in advance for domestic flights to get better rates,” she said.

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Best Time To Book Vacation Homes for the Holidays

Alison Kwong of Vrbo recommends booking vacation homes this summer if you are planning a family trip for the holidays.

“Last year, families booked their Vrbo vacation homes for the holidays as early as July, which is two to three months earlier than usual,” she said. “This early booking behavior has continued for several major travel occasions throughout the year, and we anticipate this will continue into the 2022 holiday season. Vacation homes in popular destinations in the U.S., like Hawaii and Fort Myers or Cape Coral, Florida, are already getting booked for December, so travelers should begin planning sooner than later to ensure they have a variety of properties and price ranges to choose from.”

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Best Time To Book Hotels for the Holidays

Stacey Adams, president of Active Riding Trips, a boutique travel agency in Stanfordville, New York, recommends booking hotels for the holiday season by August at the latest.

“We suggest folks book their stay on the earlier side — no later than August, but preferably in March or April, in order to get the room type or exact destination they most prefer,” she said.

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Best Time To Book a Rental Car for the Holidays

Phil Partridge of Rhinocarhire.com, a resource for finding cheap car rentals worldwide, recommends booking four to six months before your trip.

“Four to six months was always the ‘golden period’ to secure a rental car, as the majority of rental agents offer their cars at standard rates to entice the early bookers to secure their cars,” he said. “The later you leave it, the more exposed you become to supply and demand. If demand is strong, agents will increase prices. The safety net of booking early affords you the chance to cancel and rebook at a later date if prices drop; however, if they increase, you can’t wind back the clock and book at the rate you saw weeks or months earlier.”

Best Time To Book a Cruise for the Holidays

Cruises can be booked well in advance, so it’s best to book as early as possible, said Amy Jones, founder of Amy Jones Travel.

“There are some cruises that are already booking into 2024,” she said. “Booking a low refundable deposit if you are even thinking of traveling is a great idea. In some cases, if the pricing goes down, then you can readjust your pricing to the lower rate. If it doesn’t, you have made a wise financial decision by booking the lowest rate for the cabin you want. You also get the best availability for choosing the location of your cabin on the ship.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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