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Travel in 2024: Insider’s Guide for Exactly When to Book Flights, Hotels, Tours and More

Another new year is on the horizon – and one question on many travelers' minds is when they should book flights, accommodations, and activities, not only to score the best deals, but to have the unforgettable getaway they’ve been dreaming of.

So, when is the ideal time to book 2024 vacations? While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, using some strategic timing based on the latest trends and insider knowledge ensures securing your bespoke itinerary - without last minute limitations.

A traveler looking at a map in preparaton for a trip

Conscious Travel Collective's Insider's Guide on Determining the Best Times to Book your 2024 Travel.

Often when we speak with travelers it follows a similar, linear format. First, they share what they are dreaming – where to go, what sites they can’t wait to see, and the experiences they’ll have there. Next, we discuss timing – when their calendar allows time for travel, and the seasonality of the destination. The last topic is typically budget. Not because this is the least important, but as a way of asking, “can this all be done within what I’ve planned to spend”?

With important questions to answer, one question that often gets overlooked – “when is the ideal time to plan this particular trip?” No two trips are exactly alike, so it's important to consider various factors before we can answer the question of when to book. Starting with what makes your trip unique.

The Three Most Critical Questions to Answer When Planning a Trip.

  1. What are you seeking: what kind of experiences, what pace is comfortable, and what meaning do you hope to take from this time?

  2. When can you travel, and what is the destination like at that time?

  3. What have you determined is your budget for the trip, flights and transportation, and necessary purchases?

We will break down each of these questions in depth below, but first, let us explain why these questions are important when it comes to booking a trip.

A recent New York Times article took on the topic of Black Friday Travel Sales, a commenter noted that no matter how good the deal, if it isn’t where you want to travel, it really isn’t money well spent. This is such an important point! Beyond cost is the important consideration of how to spend your time. Time is a valuable resource, and making the most of your allotted travel time is an important decision, one not to be rushed.

Generally speaking, once we’ve answered the three critical questions; style, timing and budget - we can examine deeper layers to understand how to determine the best answer to "when to book travel"!

Specific examples, and when to book:

Scenario 1 - Solo traveler, modest budget, summertime

  • If you are planning a solo trip and can travel in summer with a modest budget the biggest factor will be the destination. Summer usually equals higher prices due to increased demand, try to book activities and accommodations as soon as possible – winter is a good time for getting these arrangements in place. However – if you plan to travel from the Northern Hemisphere into the Southern, where they are experiencing winter, you can probably take a little more time, as the demand for travel is not quite as high. In that case, having your plans in place by mid spring is a good target.

Scenario 2 - Family, low to moderate budget, Spring break travel

  • Families and groups have to consider that transportation and meals can add up fast. For this kind of group, we advise booking as soon as you have the school calendar. In other words, the sooner the better. Many other travelers will be in a similar situation, at the same time.

Scenario 3 - Retired couple, moderate to high budget, flexible travel dates

With less budget and timing constraints, when to book will often be determined by the destination, so let’s take a look at a few examples.

  • France – wineries, Normandy and Paris: Wineries will be harvesting in September and October, making for a really interesting time to visit, however this can also draw in travelers. Normandy is a little chilly, even in summer, but there really isn’t a bad time to be there. Paris is hot and crowded all summer, so to avoid these factors negatively impacting your trip, we’d avoid these months. All things considered, these travelers could think about the weeks leading up to harvest in September or mid-Spring (after the wineries have opened) as ideal times. In either case, planning 6-8 months in advance should give enough time to secure your itinerary, with desired accommodations. *It’s also important to consider festivals and special events! 2024 will see Paris hosting the Olympic Games, meaning a much greater demand than usual. This can push would-be summer travelers into the shoulder months.

  • Peru – Machu Picchu trek and foodies tour of Lima: Peru tourism numbers have not fully rebounded since COVID, even with the buzz of Central being named the No.1 restaurant in the world, and Pía León the top female chef in the world, travel is down. This is great for travelers who like to book their trips closer to their travel dates. The rainy season in Peru (their summer, winter in the Northern Hemisphere) is really the only time to avoid hiking in Peru, as most of the year, with proper packing and planning, the conditions are great for hiking. With any culinary hotspot, keep in mind that some places may open their seating many months in advance, making advance planning necessary to get a table.

  • Germany - European Christmas market Holiday: With only a few weeks a year to catch the magic of European Christmas markets, travelers (even with comfortable budgets) should plan to book at least one year in advance. As with flights, some accommodations do not open booking until 12 months in advance. Not to worry, when you work with a travel professional, they will be able to secure your rooms, and set up your itinerary earlier while you wait for flight availability to be published.

Scenario 4 - Group of friends, various budgets, lots of calendar conflicts to juggle.

  • Often with groups, making the timing work can be the biggest factor. Start by answering the other two critical questions together with your travel companions, then once that is outlines, take out your calendars, and look for the weeks that work for everywhere before you start your search. Be careful not to book too far in advance, however. It can be tempting to think a trip 2-3 years in advance means everyone will be able join, but this doesn’t allow for special events to pop up. Consider that much of our calendars fill with plans on dates we haven’t selected, a wedding, baby shower, sale of a home, or starting a new job. We’ve found that a 10–14 month lead time gives enough time for your travel group to weight all your options and make a selection while keeping your calendar open for things to pop up farther down the road.

Scenario 5 - Couple, moderate budget, foodie trip to Oaxaca

  • Oaxaca is a destination getting a lot of attention, however due to the perfect weather and festivals occurring nearly every month, tourism is dispersed throughout the year. Even the most buzz worth restaurants open tables only a month in advance, meaning less advance timing is needed. Travelers can benefit from relative availability of hotels, though nearly all hotels in town as small, which mean if you have your heart set on one property, you will want to book in advance. All things considered, unless you’re plans include some of the most popular festivals, travelers can book their trip closer to their travel dates when compared with many other destinations. The only caveat is flights. We’ve noticed that flights to Oaxaca were highest when 10 weeks or less from travel dates, meaning that booking 3-8 months in advance is an ideal time frame.

A closer look at critical questions to ask before planning your 2024 travel...

  1. What are you seeking: what kind of experiences, what pace is comfortable, and what meaning do you hope to take from this time?

    1. Essentially, what is your travel style for this holiday? This should be your North Star for all trip planning, and decisions. Travelers often face choice overload, by keeping in mind your vision, you’ll have clear anchor to decision making process.

  2. When can you travel, and what is the destination like at that time?

    1. It seems obvious that travel has to be planned within the constraints of your calendar, but this also means understanding how your timing matches with the destination you’re visiting. Will it be high season? Will the activities you’re seeking be available? Is there any events, holidays or festivals taking place that could disrupt your plans?

  3. What have you determined is your budget for the trip, flights and transportation, and necessary purchases?

    1. When considering your travel budget, it’s helpful to know where you want to put your investment. Are luxury accommodations your top priority? Maybe it’s dining at top restaurants? Maybe you want to secure business class seats on your flight? Whatever it is, knowing where you are willing, and unwilling to compromise, is key to making the most of your budget.

A women lounging on an outside patio in a sunny destination.

Inspired to make the most of your travel in 2024?

Let Conscious Travel Collective craft your singular Adventure! We specialize in tailor-designed, one-of-a-kind itineraries centered around cultural immersion and forging personal connections into the heart of local communities, in destinations that are hidden gems!

Step outside of the tourist trail to experience travel that goes deeper. Travel centered around connection results in perspective-altering, possibly life-changing voyages. We leverage decades of experience, a huge collection of contacts forged through friendship, with itineraries crafted with care for memorable, unexpected, and unprecedented experiences.

Connect with a travel designer for your personal 1:1 discussion to unpack your travel wish list, and criteria before artfully aligning them with a signature offering just for you.


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