Why It Could Pay to Start Booking Your Holiday Travel Plans Now

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Going away for the holidays? You may want to get moving on your reservations.

At this point, many people are bidding adieu to summer and trying to squeeze in a few last beach days and barbecues before the cooler weather sets in. If that's your game plan, then making travel plans for the holidays may be the furthest thing from your mind. But actually, the sooner you firm up your reservations for November and December, the less money you might end up spending.

Get moving now

The reason to book your holiday travel in advance is simple: The closer you get to the holidays, the more expensive flights and lodging tend to be, and the fewer choices you'll have. This might especially hold true this year given that many people stayed home for the holidays in 2020 because of surging COVID-19 cases -- and vaccinations, for the most part, weren't yet available.

While things aren't exactly wonderful with the pandemic right now (thanks, Delta variant), people who have the protection of vaccines (or even those who don't) may feel more comfortable traveling this year. That means there's apt to be more competition. So if you book your trip now, you may have an easier time finding more convenient flights or getting a better hotel room selection.

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Just as importantly, you might save money by booking plans in advance. Flights tend to get more expensive as the holidays approach, so reserving now could spell the difference between an affordable itinerary and one that busts your budget. Also, if you're hoping to fly with air miles, the sooner you make your plans, the more likely you'll be to find flights at the times you want to travel.

Book your plans strategically

If you're going to schedule holiday travel in advance, you may need as much flexibility as possible given the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. For this reason, it's important to use the right credit card to purchase your ticket. Look for a card that not only offers money-saving travel perks and extra rewards, but one that offers some type of coverage in case your plans have to change.

Keep in mind that for the most comprehensive coverage, you'll need to buy an actual travel insurance policy. Some of these policies allow you to cancel your trip for any reason, so if COVID concerns creep up, you won't lose all of your money.

Along these lines, if you're booking lodging, try to find hotels with flexible cancellation policies. Many hotels won't charge you as long as you cancel 48 to 72 hours in advance of your booking.

And speaking of hotels, even if you normally stay with family during the holidays, you may not feel comfortable doing so this year due to the pandemic. So don't assume a hotel won't be necessary.

The travel industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic, so airlines and hotels are now trying to make up for a miserable 2020. That means you may be less likely to find discounted hotels and flights, especially around the holidays. If you want to avoid having to spend a fortune, book your holiday plans now, before prices really begin to soar across the board.

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