As most Americans brave the shorter days and colder weather of winter, many do so with the knowledge that a spring break vacation is just around the corner.
Whether you are a college student or a family with children, spring break is a chance to escape to warmer climes for a week of relaxing, or partying, in the sun.
But while spring break 2016 might be a whole two months away, it is never too early to plan and book your vacation travel. In fact, booking early comes with a whole host of benefits.
Here is why:
Guarantee your spot
Planning on spring break with your besties? Remember that group travel requires lots of extra planning and coordination. (Photo: Aila Images/Stocksy)
Spring break is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Flights and hotels for the more popular spring break destinations, such as Cancún, Nassau, or anywhere in Florida, along with spring break cruises, sell out really quickly. So to ensure that you get to your ideal location, it is a good idea to book as soon as possible. Bear in mind that if you are traveling with a group of friends, this kind of coordination will add time and effort to your planning. To make sure you don’t miss out, it is a good idea to get everyone in your travel party committed at least several months in advance.
Related: Top 25 Cities for Spring Break
Save on flights
Time is of the essence when booking your spring break trip. (Photo: Lumina/Stocksy)
The cost of air travel is set to hit an all-time low this year, meaning you might snag a total bargain if you plan on flying to your spring break destination. But only if you book at the right time. A recent study by CheapAir.com looked into fare fluctuations in relation to how far in advance you book and revealed that the best time to purchase a domestic flight is exactly 54 days (7.5 weeks) before departure. Unless, that is, you are booking travel over the holidays or, you guessed it, spring break. The study found these times of year to be the complete exception to the rule, and under these circumstances, the earlier you book, the cheaper your flights are likely to be. Admittedly, the prime booking window varies by location. But one thing is for sure: The closer to your departure date you book, the more you will pay.
Between combo deals and cheaper room options, your hotel booking is a great place to save some bucks. (Photo: Jayme Burrows/Stocksy)
As with flights, hotels will allow you to make reservations up to a year in advance, with most popular destinations offering “book early” promotions for spring break travel, in the hope of enticing and incentivizing people to finalize their plans early. Also, cheaper rooms usually sell out the fastest, and prices will soar the closer you get to travel time. This makes last-minute planning difficult and expensive. The best idea is to book your room at least 40 days in advance. And going for the cheapest room isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Who needs a “pool view” when you are not planning on spending any time in the room to begin with? Early-bird package deals, where you book a hotel and flight together, are also a good option and will save you even more money in the long run.
Long-term payment plans
Book your trip now and then pay it off a bit at a time until you leave. (Photo: Getty Images)
The earlier you book your trip, the longer you have to pay for it, and spreading out the cost over time is much less painful. Hotels will usually just take a deposit or a hold on a credit card, giving you time before the trip to save up the balance. For college students, companies such as Student City allow you to pay a deposit for your trip and then pay the rest off through a payment plan, even if there is a group of you traveling together.
There are similar options for booking and paying for flights. Airfordable allows you to book a flight, pay a deposit, and then pay for the rest of the flight cost in installments. The further in advance you book, the longer you have to pay it all off and the smaller the payments are. It’s a win-win.
Time to prepare
The best part of booking early is that you can take your time planning and prepping for the big trip. (Photo: Susan Brooks-Dammann/Stocksy)
As soon as the trip is booked, the vacation preparations can begin, so you can get both physically and financially prepared for the trip — whether that involves hitting the gym to get that beach body in tip-top shape, writing packing lists and shopping for essentials, or squirreling away some extra cash to spend on beers at the beach bar. Traveling in itself can be a stressful affair, and to ensure you make the most of the time you have away, you have to do some amount of preparation. By completing your spring break plans early, you give yourself more time for this, increasing your chances for a stress-free and ultimately more enjoyable vacation.
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