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When to Book Travel Tours

When is the best time to book a travel tour? Let our AAA expert guide the way.

travel tours

There’s nothing quite like a guided tour vacation. When you travel on your own, you have to do mountains of research to make sure you see and do (and eat) everything you should. On a travel tour, someone else has already taken care of all that for you. That’s why travel tours are so popular.

But how do you plan this type of vacation and when is the best time to book? We spoke with Lucas Bialecki, head of sales for Club Adventures, powered by AAA Exclusive Vacations, to find out.

When should you book travel tours?

“If you’re just looking to go on a trip as an individual, it depends on the departure date,” said Bialecki. “Sometimes you can book as close in advance as a few weeks prior to departure, if there’s still availability.” But that’s a bit of a gamble, since some tour operators cancel dates that don’t sell – or the tour could be sold out! “If people definitely want to go, I would say typically 8 to 10 months prior is probably an ideal time to put down a deposit.”

What if you’re traveling with a group?

If you’re traveling with a group of people like family and friends, booking can be a little different.

“With Club Adventures, we can do private groups for as few as ten people,” Bialecki said. “I would usually recommend planning group travel at least 10 months to a year prior to departure. That’s the ideal.”

With groups, you want to make sure that everyone gets a spot on the tour, and that all of your pick-up and departure dates are in order. The gift of time makes that process a whole lot easier.

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What about booking closer to the tour date?  

Does booking closer to the date of your tour mean that there will be deals or discounts?

“Potentially,” Bialecki said. “Some tour operators might have discounts. For example, just recently we had discounts on last-minute bookings for our 2019 departures. Some of our dates still had availability. To entice people to book those departures and add a few more people, we offered a discount. I’d use a wait-and-see approach and see what happens.”

Booking closer to the tour date can pay off, but it is risky. There’s not always a guarantee that there will be spots left. But if you’re willing to wing it, last-minute bookings can be a great way to travel cheap (well, cheaper than usual).

travel tours

Do some travel tours fill up more quickly than others?

Tour groups travel all over the world, and some travel tours are bound to be a little more popular than others. Different destinations attract people because they’re especially beautiful or historic, or because travelers want to retrace the steps of their ancestors.

“I think certain destinations have always been more popular,” Bialecki said. “Places like Italy or Ireland specifically come to mind. They sell really well and are very popular. For us, I know this year Peru, Greece, Costa Rica, Morocco and Italy were popular. Specifically our Amalfi Coast trip – that’s one of our bestsellers.”

Is there a time of year that’s best for travel tours?

“Yes,” Bialecki said with a laugh. “I’m always about seasonality. For example, I would never travel to Europe in the summertime because it’s hot, it’s crowded and it’s really expensive. The hotels jack up the rates and  sometimes the restaurants put out summer menus with higher prices. So for me, travel to Europe is best in the spring or fall. Even in the winter, you can go to things like the Christmas markets and the Alpine countries. That can be a cool, festive time to go. You save money when you go on the shoulder season or on off-season dates. They’re less crowded too.”

Why should you book travel tours?

We’ve covered “when,” but what about “why?” What is it about travel tours that makes them so special?

“I typically learn so much from the local leader or tour director that’s with the group,” Bialecki said. “I’m usually an independent traveler, but whenever I take a group tour, I come back feeling like I know so much more about the country I visited. I end up seeing things that I probably wouldn’t have seen on my own. They’re able to take you a little more off the beaten path, and you get a glimpse into their culture and history.”

“The other thing I’d want to emphasize is group size. To me, when you’re with a small group of people, you get to know everyone so much better in the group. That makes a big difference too.”

Have you ever been on a tour vacation? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below!

To learn more about Club Adventure’s adventure travel packages and tour guides, go to ClubAdventures.com

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