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

by Brook Wilkinson | October 24, 2018

From the trails of Patagonia to the overwater bungalows of French Polynesia, 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.)

China: Beijing’s Secret Winter Delights

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 5 in 2019). 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.

For a WOW trip, contact Cultural City Tours expert Paul Bennett via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this. 

Chile: Patagonia After the Crowds Leave

patagonia mountains in front of lake and boat

Patagonia. Photo: Knowmad Adventures

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.

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

Brazil’s Famous Carnaval Celebrations

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

For: March

There’s no more memorable party atmosphere than Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval (which always falls 40 days before Lent—in 2019, that will be early March). 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 February, 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).

For a WOW trip, contact Brazil expert Martin Frankenberg via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

India’s Dramatic 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 21.

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.”

For a WOW trip, contact India experts Bertie and Victoria Dyer via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

China in Bloom

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

For a WOW trip, contact China expert Mei Zhang via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Chile: 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.

For a WOW trip, contact Chile expert Jordan Harvey via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this

Jordan’s Temperate Spring Weather

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.

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

Kenya: Safari and Coast Combo

Guests at Angama Mara overlooking Africa’s Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Photo: Angama Mara

For: March to June and October to December 15

Many travelers think of Kenya when looking for a safari destination—but few know to add a few days spent on its glittering Indian Ocean coastline. Imagine combining the thundering herds of the Great Migration with the spectacular schools of fish you’ll find while snorkeling and diving Kenya’s coral reef.

Why book in November? Right now, our Trusted Travel Expert has access to special rates at the Angama Mara, in the Masai Mara, and the Alfajiri beachside villas during Kenya’s two shoulder seasons—but this deal won’t last long.

For a WOW trip, contact Southern Africa Safaris expert Cherri Briggs via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Australia: Swimming with Whale Sharks

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.

For a WOW trip, contact Australia expert Stuart Rigg via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Laos for New Year’s (in April)

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 2019) 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.

For a WOW trip, contact Southeast Asia expert Sandy Ferguson via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Spain: Andalusia’s Festival Season

For: April and 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 April 14-21, the Seville Fair May 4–11, and the Jerez Fair May 11–18.

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.

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

Southern African Safaris at the Best Time of Year

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.

For a WOW trip, contact Southern Africa Safaris expert Cherri Briggs via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

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.

For a WOW trip, contact Romania expert Raluca Spiac via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Portugal’s Rollicking 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.

For a WOW trip, contact Portugal expert Goncalo Correia via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Galapagos Over the Kids’ Summer Vacation

For: June to August

The Galapagos is a wildlife mecca all year round, where you can swim with sea turtles, photograph giant tortoises, and have up-close encounters with blue-footed boobies. Since it’s a living laboratory of evolution at work and a zoo without enclosures, the Galapagos is particularly popular for families traveling while the kids are out of school over the summer; these trips are known to sell out six months or more in advance.

Why book in November? People often discuss family trips over the holidays; if you start making your plans now, you’ll have a jump on the travelers who are waiting until January to book, giving you a wider selection of cabins and departure dates.

For a WOW trip, contact expedition cruise expert Ashton Palmer via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

France: 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.

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

Tahiti: An End-of-Summer Paradise

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.).

For a WOW trip, contact French Polynesia expert Kleon Howe via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead Celebrations

For: October and November

Witness the people of Oaxaca take part in this pre-Columbian ritual, which offers a very different perspective on death than that generally held by modern society. Colorful altars, bustling local markets, and vibrant festivities between October 31 and November 2 help welcome the spirits of loved ones back to earth.

Why book in November? While Oaxaca is still tidying up from this year’s celebrations, hotels are already booking up for next year; act now to have your pick of the best accommodations for this extremely popular celebration.

For a WOW trip, contact Mexico expert Zachary Rabinor via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this

Thailand’s Lantern 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.

For a WOW trip, contact Thailand expert Daniel Fraser via Wendy’s “Start a Trip” questionnaire. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this


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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