Deciding when to travel is an important factor in planning your trip. It can affect your overall travel expenses, determines if the sights will be crowded or more subdued, and plays a roll in what activities will be available outdoors.
There are several variables to consider when determining when to travel.
To get the lowest airfare, compare the cost of travel on different dates and days of the week. Find out what the various rates are if you were to shift your travel date by a few days or so. Some days of the week are less expensive to travel on than others.
Be sure to Allow Enough Time for:
- Processing of your Passport or Visa if Traveling Abroad: If you need to renew or apply for a passport, plan on about six weeks for processing.
- Required Vaccine Shots: If you are traveling to a country that requires vaccine shots, be sure to plan accordingly. Some vaccines (such as Hepatitis B) require three shots in a six month period. You get the first two shots within a month of each other, and the third shot when you return. Be sure you are up-to-date on your routine vaccinations as well.
Plan for Local Holidays and Spring Break:
If you are thinking of traveling around the holidays or spring break, it’s a good idea to plan your trip at least three months in advance (or longer for some destinations). Keep in mind that airfare and lodging expenses will typically be higher during peak travel times, and you can expect it to be crowded at the airports and at your destination.
When traveling abroad, find out when that country celebrates local or international holidays and when it is considered to be peak tourist season.
Keep in mind that room availability will be limited and room rates will be higher. To determine what the peak and off-peak rates are, check out different dates of travel and corresponding rates of a few hotels in the area. Lodging and available flights may also get booked up months in advance.
Plan on your overall expenses to be higher during peak season. Tourist attractions, restaurants, and many businesses will generally charge more as well. You can plan on spending more time waiting in line at the airport and at tourist attractions.
Another factor to consider is how local holidays or off-season will affect the sights or businesses that you want to visit. Some of the local merchants or tourist spots may be closed or have limited hours during winter or off-season and some close down on holidays.
Bottom line, if you prefer to avoid the crowds, hold off on traveling around spring break (end of February through mid-April), during holidays or peak seasons, and steer clear of destinations that are considered “tourist hot spots”.
Another variable to consider is what the weather conditions will be. Find out what the optimal time of year would be for you to travel based on your needs. Do you prefer the rainy season, hurricane season, winter, hot and steamy, mild? There are some advantages for traveling during times when the weather is not considered ideal. You will most likely pay less for your overall travel expenses and enjoy the uncrowded conditions.
Another factor to check out is if there are any weather variations in the surrounding area. For example, some islands may have a rainy or windier side, while the other side is sunny and calm. Decide what weather conditions you would prefer.
Currency Exchange Rate:
When traveling abroad, consider what the currency exchange rate is. If it is favor of the dollar, you can reap the savings. This could be a determining factor on where you decide to travel.
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