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

by Brook Wilkinson | June 4, 2020




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.)

Last-Minute Availability: Cabo for the Holidays

Villa Cielito Los Cabos looking out over an infinity pool and ocean

In May, the weather in Los Cabos is mild and there’s little chance of rain. Photo:

For: December 2019 through January 2020

If sunny weather, great restaurants, and lively nightlife are the makings of your ideal holiday trip, look no further than Los Cabos, on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. And it’s an easy, no-headache getaway too, with nonstop flights from almost 20 U.S. cities.

Why book in November? Our Trusted Travel Expert has a handful of private rental properties, from one-bedroom condos to 10-bedroom luxury estates, that are still available over Christmas and New Year’s. On December 2, she’s also offering a third night free at many villas for travel until December 20 or from January 6–31.

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Last-Minute Availability: Caribbean Sailing for the Holidays

aerial shot of Belize ocean with sailboat

Explore Belize on the water. Photo: Belize Sailing Vacations

For: December 2019 through January 2020

Think a private yacht over the holidays is out of your price range? Think again. Our Trusted Travel Experts in Belize—known for its world-class snorkeling and diving and crystal-clear Caribbean waters in 100 shades of blue—can set you up with your own catamaran, helmed by a first-rate captain and first mate/chef, for less than $400 per person per night. That rate is nearly all-inclusive, covering all meals, an open bar, and equipment for snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and more. Read reviews from other travelers who have done it.

Why book in November? A few of our TTEs’ vessels haven’t yet been booked for Christmas or New Year’s—but that could change quickly.

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China: Beijing’s Secret Winter Delights

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China. Photo: Willian Lindesay

For: December 2019 through March 2020

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 January 25 in 2020). 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.

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Brazil’s Famous Carnaval Celebrations

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Matuete

For: February 2020

There’s no more memorable party atmosphere than Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval (which always falls 40 days before Lent—in 2020, that will be late 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).

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Chile: Patagonia After the Crowds Leave

For: late February through April 2020

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. Most lodges provide heavily discounted prices starting April 1.

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.

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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 2020

Holi is the Hindu festival of color marking the start of spring. It’s always fantastic to visit India during a festival, and this one is definitely a favorite, jubilantly celebrated with the joyous throwing of colored powder over friends and family. This coming year, it will take place on March 10.

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.”

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China in Bloom

Hangzhou west lake with Banyan tree and boat

Hangzhou Lake, China. Photo: WildChina Travel

For: March 2020

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.

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Chile: Solitude on Easter Island

For: March and April 2020

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 often 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.

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Jordan’s Temperate Spring Weather

For: March through May 2020

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.

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Italy: Puglia’s Springtime Gems

market vegetables in Puglia Italy

Puglia gets a head start on spring compared to the rest of Italy.

For: March to June 2020

While the northern portions of Italy are still shaking off the winter chill, Puglia—the heel to Italy’s boot—gets a head start on spring. Even early in the season you’ll find green leaves on the olive trees; by April the wildflowers are in bloom and there is fresh local produce on the menu (Puglia, after all, is where Italians go to eat).

Why book in November? Many of the region’s most charming hotels have 20 or fewer rooms, so they fill up quickly. Start planning now and you’ll still have your choice of accommodations.

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Peru: Hiking the 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: March to November 2020

The most famous trek in South America (and deservedly so), the Inca Trail isn’t just a way to get to Machu Picchu: Along the route, you’ll pass three other major Incan ruins and walk through landscapes that range from cloud forest to alpine tundra. A luxury outfitter can hire guides and porters to carry your gear, set up camp each night, and cook your meals so that a multi-day backcountry hike doesn’t actually feel like roughing it.

Why book in December? Inca Trail permits for 2020 went on sale October 15. These spots are in high demand, so the longer you wait, the lower your chance of getting a permit for the dates you want.

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Australia: Swimming with Whale Sharks and Humpback Whales

diver with whale shark Australia

The experience of diving with whale sharks is regulated by the Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service in order to ensure a safe and ethically responsible encounter. Photo: Tourism Australia

For: March through October 2020

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 humpback whales—and here the experience is regulated by the Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service in order to ensure a safe and ethically responsible encounter. Tour operators employ spotter planes to try to locate the whale sharks and humpbacks, giving you the best chance of swimming alongside these marvelous beasts (and also dugongs, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and tropical fish). 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 humpbacks from July to late October. The tours that visit them are limited to 20 people with the whale sharks and 10 with the humpbacks. Plus, the best accommodations in this remote part of the world are quite limited.

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Laos for New Year’s (in April)

For: April 2020

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 13 to 15 in 2020) 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.

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Spain: Andalusia’s Festival Season

For: April and May 2020

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 2020, Holy Week runs April 5-12, the Seville Fair April 26–May 2, and the Jerez Fair May 9–16.

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.

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Bolivia: Photography of the Salt Flats


Salar de Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia.

For: May 2020

With their mirrored surface and tricks of perspective, Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats are catnip to photographers. Our Trusted Travel Expert has enlisted professional lensman Max Milligan to lead a group of no more than 12 travelers on a week’s journey across the salt flats; through workshops and one-on-one sessions, Max—whose photographs use no flash or filters—will offer tips on shooting these epic landscapes, their hardy wildlife, and the people of the region.

Why book in November? Those who reserve a spot on this trip before November 29 will save almost $1,000 per person off the trip price.

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Southern African Safaris at the Best Time of Year

Busanga bush camp, Zambia

Busanga bush camp, Zambia. Photo: Wilderness Safaris.

For: May 2020

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.

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Romania’s Spring Bloom

Wildflowers in bloom, Enisala, Romania

Wildflowers in bloom, Enisala, Romania

For: May and June 2020

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.

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Portugal’s Rollicking Festivities

Saint Anthony Festival Lisbon Portugal

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

For: June 2020

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.

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Zanzibar’s Beautiful Beaches

beach with chaises and palapas on Zanzibar island

Zuri Zanzibar is one of the newest beach resorts on this Indian Ocean island. Photo: Zuri Zanzibar

For: June and July 2020

Zuri Zanzibar, one of the newest beach resorts on this Indian Ocean island, takes its name from the Swahili word for “beautiful”—and that’s not hyperbole. Relaxing on the resort’s gorgeous white-sand beaches is the perfect way to cap off a safari; if you have any energy left for exploration, Zanzibar also has a deep colonial history and captivating Arab architecture. June and July see the driest and sunniest weather on Zanzibar, and you can often catch the Great Migration in Tanzania or Kenya.

Why book in November? Right now, our Trusted Travel Expert can get you 15% off a stay at Zuri Zanzibar in June or July 2020—but only if you contact her via

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Galapagos Over the Kids’ Summer Vacation

family with giant tortoise on galapagos island

The Galapagos Islands are very popular for families during school breaks. So book early. Photo: Expedition Trips

For: June to August 2020

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.

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Tahiti: An End-of-Summer Paradise

sailboat in the water in Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia. Photo: Gloria Manna/Flickr

For: August 2020

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. New nonstop flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco also mean that there are more travelers arriving but the same number of hotel rooms, so the best overwater bungalows sell out far in advance.

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Mexico’s Day of the Dead Celebrations

Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca, Mexico

Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Journey Mexico

For: October and November 2020

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.

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Thailand’s Lantern Festival

For: November 2020

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.

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