At Mindful Balance Retreats, we handle most of the logistics for you so that you can concentrate on relaxing and restoring in one of our incredible retreat locations. Getting to and from the retreat is one thing we leave up to you. We want you to get the best deal on travel, so we've compiled some best practices from our years of world traveling experience and the latest research.
When to book
Most of us know that choosing the right airline can have an impact on your fare, but knowing when to book is also a major factor to consider. Fare prices are like the stock market. They shift up and down depending on any number of things happening in the world. Even though it can be tough to pin down the cheapest fare, you can usually save some money if you follow these tips.
1. Book 1-4 months in advance
The prime window for booking your travel is 27-114 days before your departure. This information is based on a study of 4.9 million trips taken in 2014. The highest prices you'll find will be within 14 days of your departure or 320+ days from departure. On average, you'll pay at least $50 more if you book outside of the prime window of 1-4 months.
A 2017 study by CheapAir breaks down those numbers even more. The travel recommendations below represent their analysis of 921 million airfares.
2. Don't hold out for last minute deals
That's not to say that people haven't been lucky with last minute deals, but more often than not, they end up waiting too long. By the time you get to within two weeks of travel, you'll have fewer options and you're likely to pay more for your tickets.
3. Avoid booking too early
We plan our retreats well in advance, and maybe you've been saving to travel with us for a long time. It can be tempting to go ahead and lock in that plane ticket early. Hold off until you're within four months of travel. This gives the airfare some time to fluctuate in your favor. Also, life changes quickly. This narrows the window between booking and departure, which could keep you from losing out on a ticket you can't use if something major happens in your life.
4. Be mindful of the season
Holiday and summer travel require extra forethought. Think about how busy airports become around winter holidays or spring break. You'll likely want to book flights to be taken during peak times sooner rather than later. We know you'll want to avoid being stuck with an itinerary that you don't like, a high fare, or less convenient travel days than you had originally anticipated.
This chart below (created using data from the 2017 CheapAir study) gives you some general guidelines about how seasonality could affect your prime booking days.
5. Be mindful of differences in departure locations
If you live in an area in which you have your choice of airports, don't be afraid to compare ticket costs from different departure locations. Driving a few extra minutes could be the difference between overpaying and coming in under budget. You also might be able to find different itinerary options by branching out.
6. There are exceptions to every rule
The optimum booking times we've discussed are based on robust datasets and our own experience. Just because you have to book outside of the optimum window doesn't mean that you are doomed to get a bad deal. For example, we've had great success booking our tickets to Hawaii right away.
Keep your eyes peeled for good deals. Sometimes they crop up in unexpected places. Like we said before, airfares are like the stock market!
Don't sweat it
If comparing fares leaves your head spinning, don't fret. Soon enough you'll be relaxing in an exotic location with a fresh juice, an itinerary packed with chances for adventure and introspection, and a group of fun people to share the experience.
Where will your next adventure be? Let us know in the comments below!