While some travelers thrive on last minute bookings and planning, my family does best booking the majority of our trips as far in advance as possible. Many major airlines open their schedules about 11 months, and many hotels operate even further in advance than that. Now that we are in early 2014, it makes sense to take a look at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s plans for 2014 and lock something in if you can.
- Thanksgiving 2014 is now under 11 months away, so you can lock in not only hotel award reservations with most chains, but also make airline award reservations now. Of course, airline mileage redemptions may become available at a later point as seats don’t sell as the airlines anticipated, but redemption options may also worsen over time. Personally, if you see something that would work now for Thanksgiving 2014 on miles, I would grab it. I just booked Thanksgiving travel myself on miles. Thanks to elite status with United I have the luxury of being able to later change or redeposit the reservation for free if I want, but you can replicate that to a degree even without elite status by booking your award tickets via a program that has low change or redeposit fees. Some examples of that are using British Airways Avios to book American Airlines or Alaska operated flights or using Singapore Airlines (transfer from Membership Rewards) to book United or US Airways operated flights.
- Christmas 2014 is under a year away and closing in on being under 11 months away. You can lock hotel reservations in for Christmas travel (or a post-Christmas ski trip!), and within the next couple of weeks flight schedules will open on several airlines, so keep an eye out for that if you want to try to use miles for travel during that peak period.
- New Year’s 2014 is just under a year away so you can now use hotel miles to snag a hotel that is in the middle of the New Year’s Eve action. Many hotel chains have wised up and have at least a minimum number of nights at New Year’s, or have made all the rooms available just through a NYE package that you have to pay for with dollars, not points, but it is still worth a look. For example, if you want to go to New York City there are a few Hyatts that only have a two night minimum and are available on points. I saw several SPG hotels available on points in New York City without a night minimum. Alternatively, if you want to celebrate in downtown Austin you can lock-in the historic Driskill hotel for 18,000 Hyatt points instead of $400+ for the night.
- Even look to Spring Break 2015 if you really like advance planning. Some hotel chains such as SPG and Club Carlson allow bookings even more than a year out, so you could look even to Spring Break 2015 if you are so inclined. We actually snagged a very good paid reservation at a certain SPG hotel that is ski in/out on a certain family friendly mountain in the Aspen area for Spring Break 2015. I’m pretty sure those rates should be higher for the dates we booked, but good things can sometimes happen when you book way in advance, and we can cancel with no penalty if things don’t work out for us to take the trip.
Of course making these advance bookings is even more important than normal right now thanks to impending devaluations by Hyatt and United. Anyone else making lots of advance bookings this weekend?