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

by Brook Wilkinson | June 4, 2020




August is a great time to start thinking about travel plans for the rest of the year, and into the next one. We know, we know—you’re still focused on summer and not quite ready to start planning for the winter. But now is the window when smart travelers can get good deals and choice accommodations in certain destinations. That’s why we offer this monthly series on when to book various trips—to help you get the most value for your money and the most worthwhile experiences for your time.

Below you’ll find a list of the places you should be booking trips to right now. Follow our advice and you’ll still have a range of accommodations to choose from, the best guides won’t already be taken, and our Trusted Travel Experts will have enough time to work their magic and optimize every aspect of 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.)

Berlin’s Up-and-Coming Art Week

Berlin Wall, Germany. Photo: Context Travel

Berlin Art Week sees the city overrun with artists, curators, and gallery exhibits. Don’t miss the art on the Berlin Wall either. Photo: Context Travel

For: September 2019

During Berlin Art Week—which takes place this year from September 11 to 15—the city runs amok with artists, curators, and collectors. It’s a great time to visit Auguststrasse, the original core of Berlin’s artistic community in the early 1990s and now home to some of the city’s most prestigious galleries. On the private and small-group tours arranged by one of our Trusted Travel Experts, you’ll learn about the area’s history from a local curator or arts writer, and also get insider access to some of the galleries.

Why book in August? Berlin Art Week is overshadowed by better-known exhibitions in other European cities; that doesn’t mean that the art is lower quality, but it does mean that you can plan a last-minute trip and still get your choice of hotel room just a month prior.

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Milan’s Fashion Week

Milan italy city center photo by Igor Saveliev Pixabay

Milan gets even more fashionable in September. Photo: Igor Saveliev/Pixabay

For: September 2019

Milan’s Fashion Week takes place this year from September 17–23, featuring brands such as Gucci, Versace, Moschino, and Armani in some of the city’s most exclusive locations. Though the event is by invitation only, with our Trusted Travel Expert’s expansive network of contacts, she is sure to bag you tickets to the must-see shows in true Milano V.I.P. style. And the fall months are a lovely time to visit, with pleasant temperatures and the return of locals from their summer holidays.

Why book in August? Fashion-industry insiders don’t book far in advance for the shows, so there’s still time to arrange a trip. If you wait till next month, though, it will be very tough to find a room and impossible to get near a catwalk.

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China’s Colorful Fall Festivals

Miao festivities in Guizhou China

Miao festivities in Guizhou, China. Photo: WildChina

For: September–November 2019

China’s subtropical Guizhou province, with its colorful tapestry of minority villages, is host to a number of festivals each fall, including the musical Lusheng festival in October and the vibrant Miao New Year in November; it is Miao tradition to clear the streets and make way for long banquet tables heaving with fresh produce to celebrate the year’s bountiful harvest.

Why book in August? Since Guizhou is well off the beaten track, you don’t have to plan a year ahead to attend these authentic festivities—but by September, all of the best hotel rooms and guides will already be reserved.

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Shanghai’s Perfect Season

Zhujiajiao, Old Town

The old town of Zhujiajiao is Chinese version of Venice.

For: October 2019

Fall is the most ideal period to visit Shanghai: As the peak season cools down, the airfare and hotel rates become more attractive and the weather is much more pleasant to enjoy outdoor activities such as exploring Zhujiajiao. Also known as the “Venice of Shanghai,” Zhujiajiao has beautiful waterways with countless traditional houses, ancient streets, and stone bridges. One of our Trusted Travel Experts offers a half-day private walking tour that can be customized to focus on Zhujiajiao.

Why book in August? Since high season has ended, you can plan a trip relatively last-minute and won’t have trouble finding a hotel room or savvy local guide for fall.

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Greece for Food and History Fans: The Centuries-Old Olive Harvest

For: November 2019–early January 2020

Olive harvesting in Greece is a tradition that has remained almost untouched throughout the centuries; nowadays, you can join locals as they harvest from their trees, discovering the indigenous Greek olive varieties and following the process that starts in the olive groves and ends with a bottle of glistening golden oil. The crowds are thinner (or nonexistent) at this time of year, giving you an opportunity to experience true Greek culture without the stresses of high season. And the mild weather also makes it a pleasant time to explore the archaeological sites and natural scenery.

Why book in August? You can’t just walk up to any olive farm in Crete and expect to help, but our Trusted Travel Expert has relationships with olive producers in different parts of the country who will open their farms and presses to you at this busy time of year. Many resorts and hotels will have closed for the season, but there are charming boutique and historic hotels and guesthouses where you can stay. The options are somewhat limited, though, so it’s best not to wait until the last moment to get organized.

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Myanmar’s Best Weather

The Pagoda Festival on Inle Lake. Photo: Myths & Mountains

For: November 2019–February 2020

November through February are the most popular months to visit Myanmar: The weather is cooler and dry, ideal for trekking to see hill tribes and for visiting both the major sites of Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake and lesser-known places such as Hpa An or the Golden Rock. The Burmese adore festivals, and there are plenty to see during these months: the Shwezigon Pagoda Festival in Bagan, Karen New Year in Hpa An, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival in Mandalay, and for the brave, the Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival.

Why book in August? The country’s top hotels fill up quickly; if you want a room with a view of the sunset on Inle Lake during high season, you’d better book now. Additionally, the country’s top guides are in very high demand and some prefer to work with large groups rather than individual travelers. By booking early, you can be assured that you’ll have access to the most experienced guides.

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Get a Head Start on Patagonia’s Peak Season

Torres del Paine National Park view of mountains and water

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile. Photo: Luis Felipa, Southwind Adventures

For: November 2019–February 2020

Hikers flock to Chile’s flagship national park, Torres del Paine, in the southern-hemisphere summer, when the weather there is relatively stable. If you want to be in Patagonia with penguins and glaciers over the Thanksgiving holidays or early next year, you’d better act fast (it’s already too late for Christmas or New Year’s reservations). To compliment your Paine adventure, take a four-night natural history cruise through the fjords of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego.

Why book in August? The park’s three high-end lodges have just 101 rooms between them; by September, they are often fully booked for those peak travel dates. And with this much lead time, our Trusted Travel Expert can arrange for your stay to align with the less frequent but more convenient flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales (instead of Punta Arenas), saving you three hours of driving time and avoiding an extra hotel night while making your way to the park.

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Central Italy’s Homespun Christmas Charm

Christmas in italy santas on horseback

Christmas in Italy’s cities and small towns still feels authentic and homespun. Photo: CIU Travel

For: December 2019

In the small towns and even the major cities of central Italy—Montepulciano, Perugia, Rome, Florence—Christmas continues to have a homespun, traditional feel, without the crass consumerism that surrounds the holiday here in the U.S. Many towns, and the larger piazza in big cities, have enchanting Christmas markets where you can buy artisan crafts and handmade decorations.

Why book in August? To fully soak up the holiday ambiance, you’ll want to stay in a city apartment or smaller hotel where you can stroll through town right from your doorstep; since this narrows the options, it’s wise to book now for the widest choice of accommodations.

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Note: If you’re looking for a countryside villa to celebrate Christmas in, read The Rewards of an Italian Villa Vacation in Winter.

Brazil’s Other Big Party: New Year’s

New Years Eve fireworks Reveillon Copacabana beach, Rio, Brazil

New Years Eve Réveillon on Copacabana beach, Rio, Brazil. Photo: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr

For: December 2019

New Year’s is perhaps Brazil’s biggest celebration outside of Carnaval, and the locals’ infectious party spirit is a major draw for travelers. Rio celebrates with one huge beach party all along Copacabana; revelers dress in white and make offerings of flowers to the sea, jumping over waves and of course knocking back a few caipirinhas. There are also free concerts and one of the world’s largest fireworks displays. More low-key parties take place in almost every beach village in the country; jet-set crowds and international DJs soak up the laid-back vibe in Trancoso and Florianoplolis.

Why book in August? Rooms at the country’s top hotels are still available over New Year’s—but that won’t be the case for long. Right now, our Trusted Travel Expert can also procure tickets to exclusive private parties overlooking the festivities in Rio.

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Uganda’s Great Apes

gorilla group in the jungle, Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda. Photo: Explore Inc.

For: January and early February 2020

The experience of a gorilla trek in Uganda is unparalleled at any time of year; the advantage of going in January and early February (before the rains hit hard in mid-February) is that the chimpanzees are more readily visible, as fruits are in season at lower elevations. Hike up the Virunga Mountains through magnificent jungle to locate one of several gorilla families, then spend an hour observing their family dynamic, playful nature, and social complexity in their home environment.

Why book in August? Trekking permits are a case of high demand and low supply; now is your last chance to snag one for this prime season.

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Bhutan’s Season of Wildflowers and Festivals

dancer in colorful robes at Bhutan's Trashigang Festival

Bhutan’s festivals are a kaleidoscope of color. Photo: Myths & Mountains

For: February–April 2020

Witnessing a Bhutanese festival is a bucket-list experience, and spring planting season is one of the best times to catch a multitude of celebrations in different parts of the country; it’s also when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom, making the countryside an incredible kaleidoscope of color, framed by snow-capped Himalayan peaks. You can choose among city festivals, such as the Paro Tsechu; small village festivals such as Talo; or the enthralling Gomphukora, held in early April 2020 at a small temple in eastern Bhutan. This last festival attracts not only Bhutanese but also tribal people from nearby Assam in India.

Why book in August? Only two airlines, Druk Air and Bhutan Air, fly into the country, so you need to reserve now to get the flights you want for next spring. Bhutanese hotels also tend to be quite small; if you want to attend the Punakha Tsechu in February or the Paro festivals in March, for example, some of the very best hotels nearby have only eight and 11 rooms respectively.

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Galapagos for an Unexpected Spring Break

blue footed booby galapagos islands ecuador

Blue-Footed Booby, Galapagos Islands. Photo: peterstuartmill/Pixabay

For: March–April 2020

Spring break is a great time to take the kids on an educational journey to the Galapagos: They can paddle with marine iguanas, play with sea lions, and tread next to bobbing penguins. Some ships offer specific family-friendly departures during spring-break weeks, and those fill up especially quickly.

Why book in August? This far in advance, the right travel specialist can match you to the ship that best fits your traveling style and specific travel dates (the latter being particularly important when working with school schedules); plus, you can still snag the inter-connected or triple cabins that are most convenient and economical for your family.

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An Australia Safari Rich With Culture and Wildlife

Bamurru Plains Luxury Lodges of Australia

Consider a safari in Australia’s Northern Territory and you’ll see wallabies, buffalo, and more. Photo: Bamurru Plains—Luxury Lodges of Australia

For: July–September 2020

Peak safari season in Australia’s “Top End”—the uppermost section of the Northern Territory, home to Kakadu National Park and the city of Darwin—runs from July through September. Here you’ll find abundant wildlife (wallabies, crocodiles, buffalo, and prolific birdlife), a rich indigenous culture and its accompanying rock art, and stunning outback scenery.

Why book in August? Since the region’s much-buzzed-about lodges have only 10 to 20 rooms each, you need to book a year in advance to get the accommodations you want.

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A Safari-and-Seychelles Extravaganza at 15% Off

A leopard sitting in the grass in Botswana

A leopard takes a rest in Botswana. Photo: Machaba Safaris

For: all dates through 2020

Looking for a vacation that combines safari-style adventure with relaxation on an idyllic beach?  Yeah, so is just about every honeymooner we know.  This month you—and they— can lock in a deal on just such a trip: a safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, followed by fishing, diving, and beach time at a private-island resort in the Seychelles. In Botswana you’ll divide your nights between Machaba Camp and Gomoti Plains Camp, where you’ll have the opportunity to see the Big Five on game drives, walking safaris, and canoe trips. Then it’s off to Alphonse Island, home to giant tortoises, fabulous white-sand beaches, and the world’s best bonefishing. Here you can snorkel and scuba dive in water with 150 feet of visibility, take nature walks, pedal around the island on beach cruisers, and indulge in spa treatments.

Why book in August? Our Trusted Travel Expert has negotiated 15% off trips that combine six nights in Botswana and eight nights in the Seychelles—just for readers—but only if you book this month; this represents a savings of at least $3,800 for a couple. The savings are even available during the peak winter holiday season, when prices are often exorbitant. Rates include all accommodations, meals, several charter flights, and a wide variety of activities at all three properties.

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