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I know some of you lucky folks are still in the middle of your spring break weeks, and I truly hope you are having a blast. At the same time, it is never too early to think about the next round of family vacation fun. In fact, I would argue that now is the best time to plan your spring break for next year, especially if you like to travel using miles and points. Some of us in the south have our spring break weeks as early as the first or second week or March, which means that many of the airline booking windows are starting to open whether you want to pay with miles or dollars.
Best Time to Book Your Spring Break Hotel Awards
Some of my favorite hotel loyalty programs such as Starwood and Hyatt actually let you book stays more than a year in advance, so if you are hoping to use your Hyatt points for Spring Break 2018 in Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, or Utah, or use your SPG points to hit the slopes in Canada or Colorado, or relax a beach in The Caribbean or California, you can make those bookings now. We already have our Spring Break 2018 Westin Grand Cayman award stay squared away at 9,600 points per night for five nights largely thanks to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card.
Since some hotel loyalty programs, including Starwood and Hyatt, make standard rooms available on points if they are for sale with cash, the further in advance you book, the more likely that a standard room will be there for the taking. This strategy of booking award stays more than a year in advance was how we got the award rooms we wanted this past spring break at two popular Hyatt resorts on Maui.
If you are targeting a popular location at a popular time and you wait too long to lock in your hotel award stay, then you may very well end up with some not-so-fun “hotel not available” messages in your future. The good news if your plans aren’t 100% final is that most hotels allow you to change or cancel your award reservations until much closer to the actual travel date, so while you should double check the fine print for your individual property, it is often a risk-free move to make a speculative hotel award reservation.
Best Time to Book Your Spring Break Airline Awards
While some hotel programs let you book more than a year in advance, airlines typically operate on an 11 month booking calendar or shorter. Since it is now mid-April, 2018 spring break weeks start in early to mid March, the airline calendars have just started to open for those dates. To my utter shock I actually found flights that looked pretty solid at the saver level using American miles from Houston to Grand Cayman for our dates, but by the time I went to put the flights on a free five day hold, it errored out. Ugh. This often means the availability is no longer there and it is just take the system a bit to catch up and no longer display the flights. In other words, I was too slow.
I guess the good news in missing out on these flights is that that I’m clearly not the only one who knows that now is the best time to book spring break travel using miles and points!
Have you started your Spring Break 2018 planning and booking? Where are you hoping to head with your crew next year?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.