How far in advance should I start planning my trip?

When to Start Planning Your Vacation Pin
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It’s (almost) never too late or too early to plan your ideal vacation, but there are some guidelines that help. In general, the farther in advance you contact us to start the trip planning process, the more time we have to craft the perfect adventure for you. Planning ahead means you’ll also have a better chance of securing your first choice in terms of your accommodations and experiences. But sometimes you don’t have as much lead time as you’d like, or it’s the kind of trip that doesn’t really lend itself to planning a year or two in advance. So what is the sweet spot? How far in advance should you reach out to a travel advisor? It depends on the type and timing of your trip! Find your trip type below to discover the best planning window. 

*Don’t forget! These are the ideal planning times. If you read this blog post and think “Oh no! I’m already too late!” please don’t worry. We’ve planned trips over a year in advance and we’ve planned last-minute adventures. If you have a trip in mind- let us know! These are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. 

TYPES OF TRIPS

Honeymoons

6-8 Months 

Honeymoons are all about sharing an adventure, two people in love creating memories that will last a lifetime. Soaking up the sun in paradise, trying all the best restaurants in the city, or enjoying the romance of a couples-only resort. Your honeymoon must be uniquely tailored to you! Because it’s such a special occasion we want to make sure we can book everything your heart desires from luxury suites to private tours.

– Planning a Summer honeymoon? Reach out in December or January.

-Thinking of a winter wonderland honeymoon skiing through the mountains? Reach out in April, May, or June

-If you’re planning a holiday honeymoon (Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year) check out the “Holiday Adventure” section at the end of this post.

Off-Season Trips

4-6 Months 

Off-season travel generally refers to the “shoulder seasons” of Spring and Fall. These seasons have a lot of benefits to travel which include cheaper prices, more availability, and fewer crowds. This means a shorter trip planning process! Consider sipping a wee dram of whisky by a cozy pub fire in Scotland or going ice skating by the beach in Sydney! Shoulder season travel is all about embracing the magic of the unexpected.

Pro-Tip: Remember the specific destination or activity could have a different “off-season”. For example, Southeast Asia’s rainy season is June- September.

[Photo Credit: @following_liz via Shared Adventures Travel]

Summer/ High Season Travel

8-10 Months 

The high season in most places is synonymous with Summer. Students are out of school, the weather is beautiful and everyone can take some time off to enjoy the sunshine. The beautiful weather creates an alluring call to the sun and the sea.

Unfortunately, it’s calling to everyone else too. Hotels, tours, and restaurants tend to book up fast in this season. Particularly if you dream of staying in a boutique European hotel with only 40 rooms. Keep in mind that there are a few extremely seasonal destinations. Places like the Greek Islands and Amalfi Coast book up even more quickly!

-If you’re heading to a destination in the Northern Hemisphere start planning between October – December. Just when you’re remembering the warm sunshine and wistfully wishing it would return.

-If you’re heading to the Southern Hemisphere, the summer season falls between December-February. Which coincides with the holiday season! For December travel see the section below. If you’re planning to escape the cold in February reach out to us between April-June.

Cruise Ships

12-24 Months

a large cruise ship wth a colorful design on the side in Alaska

A balcony looking out over the open ocean, a spot on the most sought-after shore excursion already secured, and dinner at a specialty restaurant waiting for you. Planning for a cruise as far as a year or two in advance can give you the best options! Cruises tend to release their itineraries 18 – 24 months before sailing and offer special perks for those who book early. With the best shore excursions and most popular itineraries (like Alaska) selling quickly, it pays to plan ahead!

[Photo Credit: Clare via Shared Adventures Travel read about her Alaskan Cruise here!]

Group & Family Travel 

9-13 Months

With so many different schedules to balance, the earlier you start planning group trips the better. Large multi-family rentals, beach houses, and bigger suites are often the first to sell out because of their limited availability. You can relish each other’s company in a world away from the busy day-to-day. Discover the excitement of an all-inclusive or the luxury of a private villa!

Think of your family vacation as adding another member to the family – it takes about 9 months to be fully realized. This is also a great time frame for amusement parks like Disney.

-For a stellar Summer family vacation, start trip planning in September

-Planning to enjoy the new life and freshness of Spring? Try to start preparing in July.

-For a group trip in the crisp Autumn air, consider your plans from the depths of winter in January.

NOTE: for a special group trip like a destination wedding, you’ll want to secure your dates/rates at least a year in advance and give your invitees plenty of time to plan and save.

Specialty Excursions

12-15 months

the northern lights and stary sky over a glass igloo

See the northern lights dance above you from your stunning glass igloo. Watch the greatest migration event in the world from a hot air balloon. Let the intriguing flavors of a fresh, local white truffle dance on your tongue at the Truffle Festival in Italy. If your adventure is entirely based on a particular activity or event, you should start planning at least a year in advance.

Many adventures have limited space or precious nature to protect. Destinations like The Giraffe Manor in Kenya, Machu Picchu treks in Peru, and the Faroe Islands put limits on the number of visitors each year to prevent over-tourism. These unique and awe-inspiring bucket list adventures are achievable. As long as you book early.

[Photo Credit: Christopher Chapman via Flicker under CC 2.0]

Holiday Travel 

12-15 months 

Planning on traveling during the holidays? Anything from November to New Years is going to be a very popular travel period. Of course, you can still have an epic adventure with your first choice of rooms and activities! Just remember this is generally the busiest travel season of the year, and plan accordingly. If you have your heart set on visiting the amazing Christmas markets of Copenhagen or taking your kids to Walt Disney World for Christmas– try to plan a year or more in advance!

-If you have a December 2022 adventure in mind- reach out now!

-For December 2023, start the planning process between August-November 2022.

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You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)