Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

The Best Trips to Book in November: What to Lock In Now

Brook Wilkinson | October 28, 2017

From last-minute New Year’s deals in Istanbul to tropical overwater bungalows that sell out a year in advance, these are the vacations that you should be booking right now, before it’s too late. If you wait any longer, chances are you’ll have to compromise on your accommodations, your private guides, and the extra magic that our Trusted Travel Experts can sprinkle over your trip.

(Don’t miss the rest of our series on what trips to book in each month of the year. If you prefer to know which destinations are ideal for traveling to in any given month, see our Where to Go When series, and don’t miss our comprehensive guide to the benefits of booking early.)

Beijing’s Off-Season

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China. Photograph by Willian Lindesay

For: December through March

Though it can be quite cold, winter is prime time for Beijing’s ski resorts—which will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022. Some of the best runs are found at Huabei, Nanshan, Yuyang, and Badaling. If you want to experience the Chinese New Year festivities but avoid crowds, Beijing is an excellent option, as many residents leave the city to visit family (the holiday falls on February 16 in 2018). While you’re there, explore 798—the city’s famous art zone—on a tour arranged by one of our Trusted Travel Experts and led by a local curator. You’re also likely to find better deals for hotels and flights in the winter.

Why book in November? This being a quieter time of year, it’s possible to book a trip much closer in than you could during high season—but you still want to plan at least a month out to snag the prime hotel rooms and the most in-demand guides.

Wendy recommends: Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours. Contact Paul through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip. [BC: Paul made this recommendation, but should we add a link to Mei too, if people want more than just tours booked for them?]

Fall Hiking in Patagonia

A view of Mount Fitz Roy from the trail

A view of Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia. Photo: Brook Wilkinson

For: late February through April

The southern hemisphere’s autumn is a brilliant time to be in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, when the landscape takes on muted hues and the temperature is still very palatable (and if you’re visiting other parts of Chile, they won’t be as hot as in summer). March and April see dramatically fewer visitors to the park than previous months do, and the high peaks will likely be snowcapped. Some lodges provide slightly discounted prices starting March 1 or 15.

Why book in November? This is your last call for a fall trip, before the top lodges (many of which have only a handful of rooms) fill up entirely.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Carnaval in Brazil

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

For: February

There’s no more memorable party atmosphere than Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval (which always falls 40 days before Lent—in 2018, that will be early February). After you’ve had your fill of the many-days-long festivities in Rio, leave time to recuperate on the beach in Paraty or Trancoso before returning to the wintry weather back home.

Why book in November? Hotels won’t fill up until January, but the order of the Carnaval Competition is released in late November—most people don’t realize that the world-famous parade is in fact a fierce contest among 12 top samba schools. So now is the time to decide on which day you want parade tickets (or even get in costume and march with one of the samba schools, which our Trusted Travel Expert can arrange).

Wendy recommends: Martin Frankenberg, Trusted Travel Expert for Brazil. Contact Martin through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

India’s Holi Festival

Holi Festival at Nandgaon temple complex, Uttar Pradesh, India

Holi Festival at Nandgaon temple complex, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Abhijit Kar Gupta/Flickr

For: March

Holi is a Hindu spring festival during which revelers throw brilliantly colored powders and water onto one another. It’s always fantastic to be in India during a festival, and this one is a favorite (provided you’ve brought some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty). This coming year, it will take place on March 1.

Why book in November? “The Diggi Palace in Jaipur hosted a Holi party as part of our wedding celebrations, and it was so much fun that they’ve done it every year since,” says Bertie Dyer, our Trusted Travel Expert for India. “Book now to reserve a room, and we’ll join you for the festivities.”

Wendy recommends: Bertie and Victoria Dyer, Trusted Travel Experts for India. Contact Bertie and Victoria through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Spring in Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou west lake with Banyan tree and boat

Hangzhou Lake, China. Photo: WildChina Travel

For: March

The cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou are well known in China for being slices of paradise on Earth. There’s a famous Chinese saying that translates to, “There is heaven above and there is Suzhou and Hangzhou below.” In March, spring is in full swing and the rich natural landscape flourishes. Hangzhou’s West Lake will be surrounded by verdant weeping willows and sweet-smelling peach blossoms. It’s also when Longjing tea leaves are harvested, and you can take part in this local tradition by picking tea in the nearby fields. Suzhou is famous for its traditional Chinese gardens, where you’ll see colorful displays of pear blossoms, canola flowers, tulips, and cherry blossoms.

Why book in November? Hangzhou and Suzhou are popular spring destinations for domestic travelers, so book now to make sure you get the most comfortable hotels and a guide with special access

Wendy recommends: Mei Zhang, Trusted Travel Expert for China. Contact Mei through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Solitude on Easter Island

For: March and April

Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is a tropical paradise with history, culture, and mystery at every beautiful turn. While the crowds descend from December through February, you’ll find more temperate weather—and a nearly tourist-free experience—in March and April.

Why book in November? There’s only one flight daily from Santiago, and as it begins to sell out—as has already happened for most of January and February—fares jump. Book now while there’s still space and prices are reasonable.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Andalusia’s Festival Season

Flamenco dresses for spring festivals in Andalusia, Spain

Flamenco dresses for spring festivals in Andalusia, Spain. Photo: Ivan Ricoy

For: March through May

Colorful and joyous spring festivals attract many travelers to this part of Spain, which in the last few years has seen the opening of some stunning boutique hotels. In 2018, Holy Week runs from March 25 to April 1, the Seville Fair from April 15 to 22, and the Jerez Fair from May 5 to 12.

Why book in November? The region’s finest hotels tend to have only a few rooms, which may be sold out by December. There are also many intimate, private experiences that give travelers a true reflection of the local culture—such as visits to family-owned vineyards and olive-oil mills—but which must be scheduled far in advance.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Spring in Jordan

For: March through May

Spring is the sweet spot after the cold of winter and before the summer heat really kicks in, meaning that a night out in Wadi Rum—something that really shouldn’t be missed—is more appealing. It’s also when the almond and olive trees are still in bloom, and the crowds are minimal.

Why book in November? Acting now gives you pick of the country’s best hotels and choicest guides.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Spring in Morocco

Flowers, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Flowers, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

For: Mid-March to mid-May

Spring is a prime time to visit Morocco, when the wildflowers are in bloom and Marrakech isn’t yet terribly hot. The valleys on the southern side of the High Atlas are green due to snow melt, and the gorgeous Ourika Valley is at its prettiest: all red rocks, green hills, and rushing river. Ourika is an easy day-trip from Marrakech, and you can stop at Setti Fatma village and hike to the waterfalls from there, or have a tagine lunch at one of the riverside restaurants.

Why book in November? Book at least four months in advance to have your pick of the most atmospheric riads and the savviest local guides.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Australia

For: March to July

The Ningaloo Marine Park, off the west coast of Australia, is one of a handful of locations around the globe where humans can swim with whale sharks—and here the experience is regulated by the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife in order to be as non-invasive as possible, and safe for both the humans and sharks. This species, the largest living fish, can grow to more than 40 feet long and weigh as much as a school bus. Their name—and their 350 rows of teeth—might seem fearsome, but they are actually quite gentle, feeding on macroalgae, plankton, and krill. Tour operators employ spotter planes to try to locate the whale sharks, ensuring that you’ll get the best chance of swimming alongside these marvelous beasts (and also dugongs, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and tropical fish in June and July). Part of the cost of your experience goes to the conservation of these animals.

Why book in November? Whale sharks only visit the region from March to July, and the tours that visit them are limited to 20 swimmers, with only ten in the water at any given time. Plus, the best accommodations in this remote part of the world are quite limited.

Wendy recommends: Stuart Rigg, Trusted Travel Expert for Australia. Contact Stuart through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Luang Prabang’s Pii Mai Festival

For: April

This New Year’s festival is celebrated throughout Southeast Asia but the experience in Laos is much closer to tradition than the water fights you’ll find in Thailand these days (though you should still be prepared for a water bath from a passerby, meant to wash away your sins). The festival lasts for three days or more (running from April 14 to 16 in 2018) and includes parades, carnivals, fireworks, and lots of ramwong, a traditional Lao group dance that can break out at any time!

Why book in November? Our Trusted Travel Expert has a limited number of experienced local hosts, and turns away travelers once those hosts are booked; act now to reserve both that and your choice among the city’s limited top-quality accommodations.

Wendy recommends: Sandy Ferguson, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia. Contact Sandy through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Southern African Safaris

Busanga bush camp, Zambia

Busanga bush camp, Zambia. Photo: Wilderness Safaris.

For: May

May is the insider’s secret to Southern Africa: It’s when the parks are less crowded, the weather and wildlife viewing are at their prime, and yet the rates are lower. Many of Zambia’s camps only start opening in May after the summer rains, so they offer additional free nights during this low season.

Why book in November? Savvy travelers have driven up the popularity of this low-season gem, so lodges can fill up quickly. Book now to secure the top-notch locations in the ideal sequence to make the most of flight schedules and wildlife sightings, and without having to break the bank.

Wendy recommends: Cherri Briggs, Trusted Travel Expert for Southern Africa Safaris. Contact Cherri through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Romania’s Spring Bloom

Wildflowers in bloom, Enisala, Romania

Wildflowers in bloom, Enisala, Romania

For: May and June

Romania holds many of the last wild places in Europe, and the untamed nature there is at its best in late spring, when the weather is warm but not too hot. The fruit trees bloom in May, and the wildflowers come alive in June. (Prince Charles always spends at least a few days at his private residence in eastern Transylvania at this time of year.) Additionally, local schools are still in session, so you’ll come across fewer domestic travelers.

Why book in November? Romania’s most charming guesthouses are small—many have fewer than ten rooms—so they fill up fast.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

Portugal’s Saint Festivities

Saint Anthony Festival Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon’s June festivals for St. Anthony and St. John, Portugal.

For: June

During the month of June the two main cities of Portugal are bursting with energy devoted to the celebrations of St. Anthony (in Lisbon, on June 13) and St. John (in Port, on June 24). In Lisbon, the old neighborhoods organize colorful parades down the main boulevard, and the younger crowds grill sardines and sausages in the streets. In Porto, people hit each other on the head with plastic hammers—as a sign of good luck, believe it or not—and the festivities culminate with a fireworks display.

Why book in November? People travel from all over Portugal—and elsewhere—to attend these festivals, but if you book now, you can still get a hotel room and restaurant reservations right in the middle of the action.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

A Villa in Provence

Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France

Mas Fleuri, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. Photo courtesy Just France.

For: June to August

A rambling property in the Provençal countryside is the ideal place for a multi-generational family reunion. There’s plenty to keep everyone happy, from hiking and cycling to wine tasting and just lounging by the pool.

Why book in November? By the end of the month, the best properties—those with lots of equally sized bedrooms, plentiful bathrooms, top-of-the-line furnishings, views, and usually air-conditioning—will be gone for the peak summer dates. Elect a point person for your family and have them narrow in on a few favorite villas early in the month; then your whole group can decide on the right one when you gather for Thanksgiving. If you wait to book, you’ll need to have flexible dates or be ready to accept the houses that are left.

Wendy recommends: Annie Flogaus, Trusted Travel Expert for France Villa Vacations. Contact Annie through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

An End-of-Summer Escape in French Polynesia

sailboat in the water in Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia. Photo: Gloria Manna/Flickr

For: August

August in French Polynesia is lovely. Sea breezes keep temperatures in the low 80s and the humidity down; it still rains, but in 30- to 40-minute bursts, and then the sun comes out again. The lagoons can be a bit choppy, but that’s great for kite surfing, catamarans, and outrigger canoes.

Why book in November? Since this slice of paradise is actually part of France, it gets lots of visitors in August, when many Europeans take long vacations. The best overwater bungalows sell out far in advance for this time of year, as do the flights (there are only one or two a day to French Polynesia from the U.S.).

Wendy recommends: Kleon Howe, Trusted Travel Expert for French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. Contact Kleon through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.

Chiang Mai’s Yi Peng Festival

For: November

Yi Peng is one of northern Thailand’s most celebrated festivals—and an awesome sight to behold, with swarms of Lanna-style lanterns launched into the night sky. The festival is a time to make merit and reflect on one’s actions, but there are also parades, fireworks, pageants, and feasts on a grander scale than you’ve seen just about anywhere else.

Why book in November? Yi Peng coincides with the popular Loy Kratong Festival, celebrated throughout Thailand; the combination means that you need to book a year in advance to secure the best rooms and services.

Contact Wendy to find the right Trusted Travel Expert to plan your best possible trip.

 

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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