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The Best Trips to Book in July: What to Lock in Now

by Brook Wilkinson | June 4, 2020




Late-summer getaways, warm-weather vacations for the coming winter, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that must be booked a year out…and even a safari deal exclusive to readers: These are the trips you’d be smart to lock down now. That’s because, this month, you can get the most value for your money, you still have a range of accommodations to choose from, and our Trusted Travel Experts still 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.)

Exclusive Deal: Zambian Luxury for Less

Lounge chair at Sausage Tree Safari camp in Zambia overlooking pool and watering hole and elephants on safari

Every room at Sausage Tree Camp overlooks the Zambezi River in Zambia. Photo: Sausage Tree Camp

For: July through October 2019

Located on banks of the remote Lower Zambezi River, Sausage Tree Camp allows guests to explore Lower Zambezi National Park from a very private, uber-luxurious tented camp. Views from every room and the lounge area overlook the Zambezi, where elephant and hippo abound. Leopard, buffalo, lion, and rare wild dogs frequent the area, along with zebra, bushbuck, and kudu. Nocturnal animals such as porcupine, pangolin, and aardvark are often spotted too.

Why book in July? This month only, our Trusted Travel Expert has negotiated a special offer just for readers: Book now and receive 30% off rates for stays from July through October 2019, which is prime game-viewing season.

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London’s Quiet Summer Season

The London Eye Ferris Wheel

The London Eye Ferris Wheel. Photo: Celebrated Experiences

For: August 2019

London is ideal in August because the lack of business travelers drives down hotel rates, the weather is mild, and everything is open but the city is far less crowded—so it’s easier to get great seats to London’s renowned theater events, for example.

Why book in July? It’s your last chance to snag some of the best deals of the year—such as four nights for the price of three, or guaranteed room upgrades—at the city’s top four- and five-star hotels.

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Costa Rica for Christmas

Hot springs in Costa Rica

Hot springs in Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

For: December 2019

Christmas kicks off the dry season in Costa Rica, so it’s a great place to take your family for an eco-friendly holiday surrounded by nature. While you’ll feel good about helping preserve the country’s environment, your kids will love the abundance of available activities, including hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling.

Why book in July? By August, the top-rated eco-lodges are selling out for the busy December period. Since most families have a fixed window to travel during the school holidays, waiting to book will mean compromising on your accommodations.

Ask about a trip to Costa Rica

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St. Barts for Thanksgiving

Le Guanahani, St. Barts

Le Guanahani, St. Barts. Photo: Le Guanahani

For: November 2019

November is one of the best times to be in St. Barts: Many shops and restaurants have just reopened after hurricane season, so everything is fresh and new, but prices are still up to 40% lower than during high season—even over Thanksgiving.

Why book in July? Come the end of summer, many people start making Thanksgiving plans. Savvy travelers have their choice of villas or hotel rooms for the holiday by booking in July.

Ask about a trip to St. Barts

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Mexico’s Caribbean Coast: Whale Shark Season

Tulum beach, Mexico

Tulum beach, Photograph courtesy of Journey Mexico

For: August or Early September 2019

For a few months each year, whale sharks congregate along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, feeding on plankton. These gentle creatures are not actually whales at all, but the world’s largest fish, weighing as much as 20 tons, with a length of up to 40 feet. They will even let you swim near them; and unlike many other sea life encounters, this is one that happens naturally, without the animal confined to a cage. You can arrange such an excursion from Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, the Riviera Maya, Tulum, or Cancun.

Why book in July? You still have access to the best accommodation, guides, and boats before the whale sharks swim away from the Mexican coast in early September; if you wait until August to make arrangements, you’ll have to settle for mediocre outfitters.

Ask about a trip to Mexico

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Paris for Fall Fashion Week

The Eiffel Tower and surrounding gardens, Paris

The Eiffel Tower and surrounding gardens, Paris. Photo: Anthony Delanoix/Unsplash

For: September and October 2019

From September 23 to October 1, the city will be awash with models and fashionistas—it’s quite a sight. Join a small-group walking tour focusing on Paris’s couture fashion history between runway shows, or go shopping with an industry insider, with stops personalized to your style and budget.

Why book in July? Book now, while everyone’s still focused on the summer season, to ensure a room at a trendy hotel.

Ask about a trip to Paris

Ask Wendy to find the right travel specialist for your needs and to plan the best possible trip.  You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Canada: An Arctic Odyssey

Arctic swimmer floating in snowy lake at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

Spend your summer in the Arctic. Photo: Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

For: July and August 2020

Explore the vast landscape of the high Arctic: Ride ATVs across the tundra, paddleboard alongside beluga whales, fish for Arctic char, and go fat-biking over sea ice. Your basecamp for the trip is a luxury wilderness lodge 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle owned by renowned polar explorers and accessible only by charter flight. The wildlife here is rich, from muskox and polar bears to seals and migratory birds.

Why book in July? This lodge may have the shortest season of a hotel anywhere on earth: It’s only open in July and August. Not surprisingly, it often sells out a year in advance.

Ask about a trip to Arctic Canada

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Italy’s Palio di Siena

Palio di Siena Janus Kinase

Palio di Siena, Italy. Photo: Janus Kinase/Flickr

For: July and August 2020

The Palio di Siena—a centuries-old, famously colorful horse race with bareback jockeys representing each of the city’s contrade, or districts—is held twice a year: on July 2 and August 16. More than just a 90-second-long race, the multi-day Palio festivities typify the pride and spirit of community felt throughout the city.

Why book in July? Seats for each of next year’s Palios go on sale as soon as this year’s event for that date is over. If you book as soon as the July Palio winds down, we can reserve an exclusive vantage point (such as a balcony overlooking the Mossa spot or the Curva di San Martino) for next year’s July race.

Ask about a trip to Italy

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Bhutan’s Festival Season

Bhutan festival dancers

Fall is the height of “tsechu season,” or festival season, in Bhutan. Photo: Toni Neubauer

For: September through November 2019

Fall is the height of “tsechu season,” or festival season, in the tiny country of Bhutan; each district holds its own colorful tsechu, full of dancing, Buddhist blessings, and socializing that draws locals from near and far. Bhutanese festivals are a kaleidoscope of color, horns and drums resonate through the air, and the local populace turns out dressed to the nines. Merely attending one bestows merit on you for your next life.

Why book in July? Only two airlines, Druk Air and Bhutan Air, fly into the country’s sole international airport (Paro), so seats are extremely limited. July is your last chance to get the fall flights you want, without having to compromise on logistics. Moreover, many of the top hotels are tiny, so those convenient to the most famous tsechus are often sold out by September.

Ask about a trip to Bhutan

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Australia’s Fantastic Wildlife

kangaroos on kangaroo island Australia

Kangaroo Island, off the coast near Adelaide, is a top destination for animal lovers. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

For: October and November 2019

Many people head to Australia during the southern-hemisphere summer, but the continent’s unique wildlife—including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, and a great variety of birds—is more active and visible (and the human crowds fewer) in the milder spring months of October and November. Two top destinations for animal lovers are Kangaroo Island, off the coast near Adelaide, and the Flinders Ranges, located due north of the city. In both regions, you’ll also find fabulous wildflowers in bloom.

Why book in July? Hotels and guides book up six months or more in advance for the peak summer season, but you’re safe planning just three or four months ahead for a trip during this secret shoulder period.

Ask about a trip to Australia

Ask Wendy to find the right travel specialist for your needs and to plan the best possible trip.  You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Peru’s Inca Trail

Wiñaywayna ruins along Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

It is magical to approach the ruins of Machu Picchu on foot via the Inca Trail. Photo: Southwind Adventures

For: November 2019 or May and June 2020

November is the last chance to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu before the wet season hits. It is magical to approach the ruins on foot, getting your first glimpse of the citadel from the Sun Gate, as many Incans did. On a private trek, it’s possible to arrange for a glamping experience with tents large enough to stand up in, inflatable mattresses, gourmet meals, and even a massage therapist. If you’re not up for a multi-day hike, you can take the train most of the way from Cusco and hike the last seven miles along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Why book in July? Permits typically sell out four months in advance, so by August you’ll have to choose between hiking and camping in inclement weather, or holding off until next spring.

Ask about a trip to Peru

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Los Cabos, Mexico, for Christmas

villa in Los Cabos Mexico with infinity pool

If you want to be in Cabo over Christmas or New Year’s, July is the latest that you will still be able to find space in a villa or hotel for your preferred travel dates. Photo:

For: December 2019

The winter months—and the holiday season in particular—are the most popular time of year for travel to Los Cabos. If you want to be in Cabo over Christmas or New Year’s, July is the latest that you will still be able to find space in a villa or hotel for your preferred travel dates.

Why book in July? Because if you wait until August (or even later), you’ll likely be stuck picking among extremely limited options that don’t quite match your requirements—accommodations with a long hike to the beach, perhaps, or not enough bedrooms to fit your group comfortably.

Ask about a trip to Los Cabos

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Cartagena, Colombia: New Year’s Celebrations

The New Year's party at Sofitel Santa Clara in Cartagena, Colombia

The New Year’s party at Sofitel Santa Clara hotel in Cartagena, Colombia. Photo: Sofitel Santa Clara

For: December 2019

Each year, the crowds grow bigger and more glamorous as Cartagena rises higher up the list of worldwide hot spots in which to celebrate the New Year. There’s salsa dancing on the 17th-century city walls, parties all around the city, and of course a fireworks display at midnight.

Why book in July? Cartagena is a popular New Year’s destination for Colombians and foreigners alike. If you wait until August, you’ll have a hard time finding quality accommodations, guides, and boat charters for trips to the Rosario islands—a lovely escape from the city.

Ask about a trip to Colombia

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Maldives for a Last-Minute Getaway

aerial view of an overwater bungalow at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives

Huvafen Fushi, Maldives. Photo: Huvafen Fushi

For: July through October 2019

The recent and upcoming openings of several new luxury resorts have left the Maldives with more rooms than travelers. Though in July and September you might experience an hour-long afternoon or evening rain shower a few times a week, this is prime surfing season and the best time for spotting manta rays and whale sharks.

Why book in July? The island’s hoteliers will eventually balance out supply and demand—but for now, there is a lot of availability at great rates. Flights have never been cheaper, either: We’ve seen round-trip airfare from the U.S. for less than $1,000 per person.

Ask about a trip to the Maldives

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If your goal is an extraordinary trip when the time is right, go to Ask Wendy. We know which trip-planning specialists have up-to-the-minute intel for your destination and can minimize your risk and maximize your experience. Check out Real Trips Right Now to see the difference that this makes.


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