The best holiday travel advice…

Book early! And plan now for Spring Break!

There’s still time to get your holiday shopping done, unless you’re shopping for holiday-season travel. If you haven’t made travel arrangements for Thanksgiving or the end-of-year holidays yet, act fast. And, if you plan to travel for Spring Break 2013, make those reservations now.

Travel agency owners, managers and agents who responded to the Travel Leaders Group 2012 Fall Travel Trends Survey indicated that there’s little time left to find good value on Thanksgiving travel. When asked to compare 2012 Thanksgiving travel bookings to bookings at this time last year, 72.3 percent of survey respondents said their bookings are equal to or higher than last year.

When is the ideal time to make travel arrangements for Thanksgiving and other peak travel times? Six months in advance, according to a majority of Travel Leaders Group’s travel professionals.

When asked to compare end-of-year holiday travel bookings (the time immediately prior to Christmas through the New Year’s holiday) to 2011 bookings, 76.7 percent of the survey respondents said that 2012 bookings are equal to or higher than last year.

The key reasons for the urgency is that there are fewer domestic airlines than there were just a few years ago, thanks to mergers between many carriers. Additionally, because of continued economic uncertainty, airlines have reduced capacity on their remaining flights, meaning that there are less seats available. Since most of the agents who responded to the survey also indicated that their holiday travel bookings are up over a year ago, that means that the closer you get to the date of travel, the more difficult it could be to find the flight you want.

Looking ahead, the majority of the survey respondents advised that travelers who want to lock in the best airfares and resort pricing for Spring Break should make reservations now. Here are their top three reasons why travelers should not wait until the last minute to book Spring Break flights and accommodations:

  • Reduced airline seating capacity. Airlines continue to cut costs by cutting back on flights, and even cutting some routes completely.
  • Lock in airfare costs. Flights tend to get more expensive as the departure date draws closer; last-minute values are few.
  • Lock in hotel/resort pricing. Like the airlines, hotels and resorts tend to reward vacationers who book early.

However far in advance you make travel arrangements, here are the top ways to get the most value for your dollar, according to Travel Leaders Group travel agents:

  • Be as flexible as possible on your travel dates.
  • Be flexible on the time of day you travel.
  • Book your air travel as part of a tour or cruise package.

For more helpful advice and assistance with your holiday and vacation travel plans, talk with your travel professional.

Robbert van Bloemendaal, Blue Ribbon News special contributor and world traveler

This travel column was written by special contributor Robbert van Bloemendaal, an experienced world traveler, native of Australia, an Ambassador with the Rowlett Chamber of Commerce, and president of  Travel Leaders of Rowlett.

Read Robbert’s New York in December: Radio City Music Hall looks great at 80, spectacular at Christmas

Read Robbert’s Top Ten US Vacation Destinations for 2012

Read Robbert’s Top International Vacation Destinations for 2012

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