Book your South America holiday early or late?

by on 12th September, 2014

Book South America holidays early or late?

Early bird catches the worm – or do they – does it really pay to book early for South America holidays?

Tom looks at the merits of planning in advance.


He writes:

“South America is a distant holiday destination. Almost every country is vast and even those that aren’t present logistical issues and choices for people trying to shoehorn in all their holiday highlights.

Booking early? The watchword is ‘reasonable’. Rock-bottom prices will not be offered, but we can sometimes get this year’s rate for the coming year for advance bookings – which can save you 5-10%.

By planning and booking far enough in advance, especially for peak season travel, you can make sure you get a good price and a brilliant itinerary.

For long haul, lots of very cheap late deals are almost a thing of the past.

The travel market today is much more fluid, with travel companies able to exercise greater flexibility with flights and room bookings, so there are often not the same volume of last-minute bargains as before.


When to start planning

It’s never too early to start planning.

We get requests for travel some 18-36 months in advance. Although exact prices are not available, the basic travel machinations, advice and approximate costs are. Add on 10% for each year that passes until your planned trip and you’ll get a good ballpark figure.

You’ll be able to read more about the destinations, think more about what you really want to do, and when it comes to booking, be more informed.

It costs nothing to get in touch – you may never book a South America trip, but it’s great fun reading up and imagining the trip anyway!


Busy times

Our busiest time for enquiries is January and February.

Everyone has shaken off the Christmas hangover, and all those inspirational TV programmes spur people into action.

However, if you know where you want to go, give yourself a bit of time in December and beat the rush.

You’ll have a greater choice of hotels, especially if you have a specific in mind, as they fill up in the New Year booking period. You don’t want to be rushing, competing against others, grabbing spots.



Flights, especially from regional airports with the best routing, are reasonably priced when booking early. Most are paid for in full upfront, so do have funds available and check terms and conditions.

The industry insiders think Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly because it’s not a big day for business travel.

Other tips are to fly early in the day– early morning flights are often cheaper and there are fewer chances of delays. Research has shown that the best fares for South America are booked at least 80 days in advance.


Booking late – don’t panic!

Late bookers can still find bargains though.

If you like to leave it late or get some sudden time off – there are late deals on flights and things like Galapagos cruises, and these can be great if you are flexible on location and hotels. Many things will be sold out, though.

Be warned – many late fares are often only USD 150/GBP 100pp cheaper than early-booked flights, and have very limited dates and check for long layovers in several airports.”


Quick month by month South America booking guide


Jan + Feb

Busiest time for bookings, so you are competing with others, prices rise and availability can go. Inca Trail permits for May-Sept fly like hot cakes!

Can be cheap to travel to out of season places – Ecuador, Peru for last minute, Bolivia. Most folk are planning, not travelling.



This is already ‘late’ for booking the July-Aug dates and some sold out. A flight that may have been GBP 750 return will be GBP 1,000 or more. Some hotels and trips sold out already, albeit that there are back-ups if you are flexible.



Classic Inca Trail SOLD OUT time – people have booked the flights but not the permits. Alternative trek it is then.

Some early birds are thinking ahead for Patagonia and get cheap flights, as main Patagonia season competes with Christmas flights.

It’s often not the long hauls that are expensive for Patagonia, but the connecting flights around Europe as people fly home for the festive period.



You may suddenly think – aha! Peru. Flights will be double what they were 10 months ago, if available at all. Quiet times for bookings and enquiries, so a good time to get information for the travelling the following year.



Flights open 11 months in advance and for those that know what they want, how and when, you can book now for July and August the following year and guarantee that summer holiday at a good price.

Allows plenty of time for financial planning for the trip,  too.



Families and honeymoons – this is the time to seal the deal. If you’ve a special event (anniversary/wedding/birthday) that you wish to celebrate in South America, booking now for the year ahead will keep stress levels down.

Contact us for more.



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