Should I Book in Advance or Wait Until the Last Minute?

book in advanceOne of the most frequently asked questions I receive is whether it makes sense to book in advance or wait until the last minute. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in the world of cruising I would most definitely book in advance to get the best rates possible. Same holds true for airfare. With hotels and resorts, you might find some great last minute deals.

Why should I book my cruise as far out in advance as possible? There are a few different reasons. The first is that by booking as far out in advance as you can, you get the choice of the best cabins and availability. What’s nice as well is that many cruise lines will honor a price drop for you if the price of your cabin goes down. Make sure you book with a great travel agent and they should monitor the rates to see if they go down. In the end, you will get the cabin of your choice at the best rate possible.

book in advanceIf you really would rather opt for a great deal, sometimes there are great last-minute bargains available. As the cruise line gauges the ship’s occupancy for a certain sail date, they will try to fill the remaining open cabins. One of the ways that they do this is that they might upgrade a person in an inside cabin to an oceanview to make the inside cabin available. Since inside cabins tend to be the least expensive, their hope is that they can fill these at the last minute. The person getting the upgrade is happy and the person looking for a last minute deal is also happy.  Sometimes waiting can pay off, especially if you have a flexible schedule.

What about booking airfare? There is no rhyme or reason to buying airfare although some people believe that purchasing your tickets on Tuesday will result in lower fares than on the weekend. One thing is for certain: Don’t wait to buy tickets for holidays or times of the year that are extremely busy like school breaks.

book in advanceWhat about hotels and resorts? Somewhat like cruises, there are advantages to booking in advance. If you are planning a wedding, for example, it’s probably best not to wait until the last few months to book your hotel or resort. You’ll get the best rooms in the best location although you might not get the low rate someone who books at the last minute might get.

book in advanceHowever, that person booking at the last minute will probably not get the choice of the most desirable location or room at the resort. Maybe they don’t get the oceanview or beachfront room that you can’t pass up, but they are willing to sacrifice that for the money they can save booking at the last minute.

What kind of prices are we talking about for last minute savings? How about 7-nights at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana for $799 per person in November? Or how about 6-nights at an all-inclusive in Cancun for $669 per person in February? There are many more out there for weekend deals in the Caribbean and even in the US.

You certainly know what kind of traveler you are, be it the one that plans in advance or the last minute traveler.  Either way, you’ll be on vacation!