Timing your trip

When to travel, and when to book travel

Everything you need ot know about timing your trip: What time of year to travel and how far in advance to book things.

Travel seasons

So, when should you travel? The usual answer is whenever you can get the vacation time. It may have to be summer, when the kids are out of school or your work schedule slows down.

If you can hand-pick the dates for your trip, however, consider these facts: Summer is usually high season when everything is up and running in Europe, but everything is crowded as well, and the temperature is often sweltering. There will be colorful folk festivals, but horrendous museum lines.

On the other hand, Christmas in Paris can be lovely, but many people don't want to spend their vacations all bundled up against the cold.

The best travel time in general? Mid spring (late April/early May). The worst? August, especially August 15 through 31.

When to book...

Personally, I reserve in advance my airfare, rental car, a marquee event or two, and the first and last nights' lodgings (so as to remove that stress)—but try not to book the rest of the trip.

The best timing when it comes to much of travel is "right now"—and it's hard to embrace those unplanned opportunities, happenstances, serendipity, unexpected festivals, and other strange travel suggestions when your entire trip has been pre-programmed.

(Special occasions are an exception to this rule, of course—though I did book all the details for my New Zealand wedding—from the rented house on the Coromandel to the local celebrant and photographer—only five weeks before I was standing on the each saying "I Do.")

When to book airfares

When to book hotels

When to book car rentals

When to book escorted tours

When to book walking tours and activities

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in Janaury 2013.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.