When should I plan my trip to South America?
No time is better than right now to start thinking about South America as your next holiday destination. Depending on how you research, whether this be through travel books/guides, newspaper articles, talking to friends or travel agents who have been before, you could spend as long or as little time with your background information collecting.
But when it comes to actually ‘planning with intent to book arrangements,’ a decent lead time is required depending on where you are wanting to travel and how flexible you are with your with your travel dates.
Let’s split this up to two types of travel to the region:
The main sights please…
This type of overall plan is based on trying to obtain a general overview of South America and its highlights based on around three to four weeks of travelling time. As several countries are likely to be included in the one trip, the date of travel is probably a bit more flexible and climate will vary throughout. Often a trip like this will include several airports as flying can be the most time effective way to complete such an intense exploration.
The recommendation would be to book your travel at least six months prior to departure. Why so early? The popularity of some destinations mean that to secure certain tours, hotels and economical airfares, it is wise to book with anticipation. For example, the site of Machu Picchu is capped at 2000 tourists per day, and whilst this is not a small amount of people passing through the citadel’s gates, you don’t want to be in the position where you have chosen to travel to Peru but will miss out on one of the country’s (and the continent’s) absolute highlights.
Also air schedules are available approximately 10 months into the future from the current date. This is important to keep in mind as the economical airfares are usually the first to be sold. This is particularly the case if you are considering travelling through busy travel time such as school holidays. Whilst there may be sales promotions and discounted fares later down the track, often excludes really busy travel times so you can weigh up whether you prefer to wait in case flights reduce, and potentially miss out on the arrangements you had your heart set on.
Something a bit more exclusive or personal
This type of travel is centred around trophy destinations that are not on always on then well trodden track and are based on a particular or special interest. Areas such as the Amazon, Galapagos Islands, and Patagonia all fit into this category and have different seasons which will largely influence your type of experience. Aside from climatic considerations, these parts can be in incredibly high demand, especially if you are choosing a boutique of luxurious product with limited space.
Cruises will always book and are often available for sale more than 12 months advance as can some exclusive lodges in Patagonia. There can even be price differences within certain seasons which can make some dates harder to book than others.
So between 9-12 months lead time should be considered to successfully book to some of the ‘gems’ and elaborate and unforgettable experiences of South America.
That’s not to say that special offers, promotions and discounts will not be offered closer to departure date. They do sometimes represent good value for customers but by their very nature you need to be flexible with your departure date or willing to ‘travel on a whim’ to make the most of the savings.
How far in advance do you usually book your holiday? We’d love to know.
Want to know more about travelling in South America? Check out our special Go To Guide featuring a brief summary of 32 of the most popular destinations.