Editor’s note: this article, originally published October 2018, has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date Early Booking Bonus information.
It might be difficult to wrap your head around booking your winter sun vacation in the spring but hear me out.
Anyone set on a specific destination or resort with inflexible travel dates, and everyone looking to travel over the holidays, March Break or Reading Week, you should be booking your upcoming winter sun vacation now. Yes, a full six to nine months before you intend to travel.
Ask any teacher who travels south in the winter. In fact, the travel tendencies of teachers, and more so, when that travel is booked, should be a guide for anyone planning a winter holiday in the height of the high season. Even with their abundant vacation time, teachers are always left with the most expensive times of the year to get away – not unlike travelling families.
Over the years, teachers have adjusted their buying habits to score both the best deal (relatively), while also getting the destination and resort they are after. They do this by taking advantage of Early Booking Bonuses (EBBs). Booking early gives them a choice of virtually every destination and resort, and paying in full excludes them from any unforeseen price increases that can arise closer to departure.
There are also cash savings incentives, like $500 OFF, per family, with Air Canada Vacations, if you get your booking in by June 30th.
Here is everything you need to know about taking advantage of this year’s Early Booking Bonuses and why it’s the smart thing to do.
Early Booking Bonuses
In the springtime, tour operators such as Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations, and Transat release their new Fall-Winter-Spring brochures and product. This is a good time to pick up a few brochures, get the family together and start your planning.
Assuming you have settled on an exact week for your trip, this is a good time to decide on a destination. If you want guaranteed hot weather, look further south than Florida, the Bahamas or Cuba, where it can sometimes remain cool during a cold winter in Canada. Once you settle on a place, choose a few resorts your family would love – three, including a favourite, should suffice.
Early summer is a great time to get together with a travel agent to price your selections. Rates offered at this time will reflect an Early Booking Bonus or discount. Often, tour operators take winter bookings with only a deposit – sometimes as low as $100, per person, with the balance due by the end of October (these deadlines vary between tour operators – ask your travel agent).
As prices generally increase in November for travel December through March, make sure to get your booking with deposit and payment in full by your EBB deadline, given to you by your agent at the time of booking. You can always just pay in full at time of booking, too.
If you’ve ever tried to book a last-minute all-inclusive holiday, you know the drill: take your pick of barely discounted leftover packages to less-desirable destinations and resorts. By booking early, vacationers have their pick of exactly where they want to go and precisely where they want to stay, down to a specific room category and exact seats on the plane.
If there is a pitfall at all in getting your booking in early, it’s that your flight times are subject to change. If booking in June or even October for a March Break package, tour operators only know what day of the week they will offer their flights to XYZ, but the actual flight times, that far out, are only an estimate and often change. Understanding (and accepting) this is key, along with the flexibility to roll with the airline’s punches.
As mentioned, tour operators release their Fall–Winter–Spring sun product in the late spring, striking contracts with airlines, hotels and ground operators much earlier. At the time of print, brochure prices are often only an estimate and can change, even fluctuate.
Market conditions such as demand, the rate of exchange and the cost of fuel can all affect the cost of a package and rates are sometimes adjusted to cover any unexpected cost increases to the tour operator throughout the year. Fuel surcharges, in particular, can drastically increase the cost of a flight and present an unpleasant surprise to those who’ve waited to get their booking in.
A drastic drop in our dollar can also instigate a price hike, as can poor demand by the travelling public, for whatever reason. To avoid unexpected price bumps and paying more than you should for your winter sun holiday, get your booking in before the end of October, if not much earlier.
Sure, the monetary incentives are nice, but if you value peace of mind at all, the relief of booking your family vacation in advance is priceless.
All set? Get your booking in early and save. Our winter sun holiday packages from across Canada are on sale now. Book online, visit us in-store or call us at 1877 967 5302 to get closer to your holiday today.