Now is the time to plan your trips for 2020.
Where will you go in 2020? While it may seem like you have all the time in the world to figure that out and book your trips, there are several big benefits to making your travel plans sooner rather than later. You don't necessarily need to get every ticket, hotel, and vacation rental booked this second, but a broad-brush plan will make everything easier and more affordable.
1. You're more likely to follow through
We've probably all met someone who talks about all the places they'll go without ever making it happen. It's easy to tell yourself that this is the year you're going to Europe, or South America, or any other destination that interests you. But then life gets in the way. It seems as if you're constantly too busy, so you keep postponing your trip. Before you know it, another year has passed, and you're back to square one.
Planning is the key to making sure you go on the trips you want. Once you pick out a timeframe and start making the necessary arrangements, that trip moves from being a nice idea to a concrete plan you're putting into action.
2. You can watch for the lowest prices
It's not always true that you can get the lowest prices by booking early because prices often fluctuate. The advantage of making plans early is that you can monitor prices and book when you see a good deal. If you're shopping at the last minute, you're under more pressure to book something right away.
To have a better chance of snagging a low price, enter your desired travel dates on a booking site and set up price alerts. Another option is to book refundable airfare and accommodations. That way, if the price of either goes down later, you can cancel your original reservation and rebook it at the lower price.
3. There are more opportunities to book with travel rewards
If you use travel credit cards and you want to book using your points, you're much more likely to find award availability by shopping early. There's usually a limited number of flight seats or hotel rooms you can book with travel rewards. If you wait too long, other travelers may snatch them up first.
Keep in mind that many loyalty programs also have two types of airfare/hotel stays you can book with points: a standard option and a saver option that costs significantly fewer points. Saver airfare/hotel stays go much more quickly, for obvious reasons
4. You can request time off from your employer in advance
Although every employer is different, many of them handle time off on a first-come, first-served basis. When employees in the same role need time off, whoever asked first gets priority.
By figuring out your travel dates now, you can also request your vacation time at work. And in the event that your employer can't accommodate the dates you want, you'll have plenty of time to find alternative dates that work.
5. You have more time to budget and save for your trip
Vacations can be expensive, even when you're careful about your spending and you look for ways to save money on your trip. Unfortunately, this expense often pushes people to do one of the following:
- Go into debt with loans or credit cards to pay for their trips
- Skip travel because they don't have the money for it
Neither option is ideal. It's not a good financial decision to go into debt for an unnecessary expense, but you also don't want to miss out on traveling entirely.
The better solution is to save a set amount per month until the date of your trip. And if you get started on this early, you'll have a much easier time saving enough.
6. Popular activities can sell out quickly
It's never fun when you book a trip and learn about an activity that you'd love to do, only to discover that it's sold out. Many popular activities and events, such as tours and concerts, sell out several months in advance. If you miss out, you either won't be able to go or you'll need to pay a much higher price.
Although last-minute travel can be exciting, you're better off making your plans well ahead of time for the places you really want to go to. If you plan properly, 2020 could be the year when you take that trip (or trips) you've always wanted.