For all those scuba travelers out there who think the best way to get a great deal is to wait until the last minute – think again. Often times, you’ll find the early bird gets the worm. When you wait, you may find resorts in your desired destination are encountering high demand at that time, or worse, filled, and then there will be no bargains to be found. And for those who do find that bargain basement deal, is it really all you wanted to experience in your vacation?
Those travelers who plan in advance generally have an advantage over the last-minute bargain hunters. Working with a dive travel specialist, scuba travelers can mold their vacation to suit their tastes and needs. Creating the perfect trip that encompasses everything it should takes time. Wait for a “deal” and be prepared to settle for something not so special.
So the question then is how far out should you start to think about your next adventure or relaxing getaway? Well, there are 3 main factors to take into consideration:
- Where you want to go.
- What time of year you want to go.
- How important is it to you to create the ideal experience.
WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
Ideal planning times firstly depend on the destination. International scuba trips by their nature simply require more lead time than your average domestic vacation. Trips to Asia or the Pacific islands should be booked far more in advance than a trip to the Caribbean. As a minimum, I say a good general rule of thumb would be for trips to Asia or a Pacific island, book at least 9-10 months out; Caribbean or Mexican destinations 3-4 months out; Central American destinations 6 months out; and South American or African destinations also 9-10 months out. Liveaboards, no matter the destination, should be planned 12-18 months out to have a better chance at securing the itinerary and the type of cabin you desire.
WHAT TIME OF YEAR YOU WANT TO GO
Most destinations will have definitive “seasons” – those times of the year when levels of demand vary. Generally resorts base their pricing on high season, low season, and the in between shoulder season. Traveling during high season, with its greatest level of demand because of preferred conditions, requires advanced planning for obvious reasons. This can hold true for shoulder season as well, though to a slightly lesser degree. If you opt to travel to a destination during low season, this is when you have a lot more leeway. This is when the last minute deals are to be had, but at a different price. You should be aware that you are being offered the lower price because generally this season is during less than optimal conditions.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO CREATE THE IDEAL EXPERIENCE
Was there a special occasion you wanted to celebrate on this trip? Was there a particular event you wanted to experience that only happens a certain time of year? What normally happens to last minute shoppers, especially during high or shoulder season, is that you are not able to plan your perfect trip. Now you have to settle for what’s left or don’t go. It is not unusual when a diver waits until the last minute to contact me, that I put together a great proposal, only to have to come back to them the next day and say that the last room was booked, or that unique experience no longer has availability.
As we all know, scuba vacations are rarely cheap. That’s not to say you can’t find a dive vacation package that isn’t a great value. But the last-minute dive traveler may not find the ideal experience he or she was searching for. That said, if it is a choice between last minute travel or not at all, let’s go. However, an ideal vacation is more than a financial investment. It is an investment in the enrichment of your soul and well-being. Isn’t that worth spending time to craft the experience to what you need?
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