There has been a lot of recent research into the best possible timing for booking hotels and flights, and for most of the year you can save money by paying attention to it. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that late December holidays to tropical resorts are incredibly popular, and booking them as early as possible is the best strategy.
If you are content to travel in mid January or even in early December, you can save quite a bit of money by timing your purchase and keeping track of deals, but it’s a safe bet that the best travel dates around Christmas will sell out first, and prices will keep climbing.
Early bird specials are available through October, but book soon
For the most popular all-inclusive holidays, like those to Mexico or the Dominican Republic, the resorts are totally full every year from the Friday before Christmas until the Sunday after New Year’s, and they know they will be full again this year. For this reason, they have no incentive to cut prices just as the holidays approach.
However, they do like to know that they are mostly booked at least a month or two beforehand, so many of them offer 25%-off early-bird specials if you are ready to book before mid November. So if you want to book the cheapest resorts in Jamaica, which are in Ocho Rios, you’ll make up your mind early and lock it in.
Another factor is that many people don’t get motivated to go on a vacation to the tropics until it gets really cold where they live. Booking a beach holiday doesn’t seem too enticing when you are still using your air conditioner at home, but once you are shivering at home you’ll pay more, so prices tend to go up.
Airfares are the other key factor
In general, the common wisdom is that airfares are cheapest from 4 to 6 weeks before any given departure, but the exception to that rule is the holiday period that everyone wants to travel on. In other words, flights from the cold areas into the tropics have limited space, and since so many people book early, the airlines know they don’t have to offer sale prices. They’ll fill up every seat at high prices at the last minute if they have to, so the longer you wait to book the higher airfares will be.
The best resorts fill up first
If you’ve been going down to the tropical areas for at least a few winters you already know that many people find a resort that they love, and they book it every winter. In many cases it takes a few years before they find the one they love, so the inferior resorts have new crowds every year, while the best ones are booked by the same people.
What this means for you is that if you wait until early December to book, you’ll see that the only resorts still offering “sale” prices are the ones that few people like, while the best ones are either fully booked or they offer very high prices because they know they’ll fill up anyway.