Here's why it's not too soon to start planning your annual Christmas holiday getaway.

2022-12-31 01:55:38 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Even though spring has just begun and your summer travel plans are still up in the air, you should not wait to start thinking about and making reservations for your family's Christmas holiday getaway.

In spite of the fact that there are still eight months until the holiday season begins, you may run into trouble trying to use your points to book a vacation at your dream destination.

Actually, even if you are not absolutely sure where you want to go just yet, you may want to plan several different vacation options and then figure it out later. I have reservations for three very different trips this December, which is one fewer than I had in the run-up to the holidays last year.

Even if I have to cancel some of them 60 days in advance, I will still have six months to figure out my schedule. In contrast, if I make a reservation(s) now, I increase the likelihood that I will be able to redeem my points and miles as the situation calls for it.

Here are some things to think about if you want to start planning your holiday getaway early this year.

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(Image: Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld / Getty Images)

Adaptability is within your reach

These days, it's not uncommon for hotels to offer different rates for bookings made at different times of the year (or different times of the day) using points. As a result, you may need to redeem more points per day during busy periods like the week of Christmas.

Some holiday travel dates may actually be in the off-peak or standard award calendar.

If you can travel before or after the holidays, you will find more hotel options and possibly lower prices.

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The Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort, for instance, has rooms available on December 22nd and 23rd, which is during the holiday season. December 21 (or earlier) to December If you can, try to plan your trip for December 26, as doing so will save you a considerable amount of money compared to going on

(Hyatt hotel screenshot) com)

It's also worth noting that you can view the daily point requirement for a standard room on the points calendar available at all Hyatt properties. Use that calendar if you want to cash in as few World of Hyatt points as possible.

The Playa del Carmen Grand Hyatt This picture was taken by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

You're in the clear when it comes to airline cancellation and rescheduling policies.

In a silver lining, many airlines let you book flights using points and miles and then cancel them at no cost if the pandemic is delayed.

Although every airline has slightly different procedures, there's a good chance that you can lock in airfare using your miles now without incurring any penalties if your plans change later.

Major airlines including American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways allow you to cancel your award flight without any fee, and the points or miles will go back to the account they were pulled from (for some, this no-fee policy only applies for flights originating in the United States)

The majority of airlines also refund any applicable taxes and fees to the original credit card used to make the reservation. Instead of paying the taxes and fees out of pocket, JetBlue will give you a 12-month travel credit.

How to Avoid Paying Cancellation or Change Fees when Flying

Perhaps I'm overdoing it, but I already have a holiday flight booked on American Airlines to Aruba, on both American and Alaska Airlines to Hawaii, and on JetBlue to Costa Rica.

Once Southwest's booking window opens on June 16, I'll probably use them for one or more of those trips. A great possibility is taking advantage of our Southwest Companion Pass, which allows a member of my immediate family to fly with me for nearly no additional cost.

This picture was provided by the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino.

Just in case Southwest's selection turns out to be less than ideal, I have a backup plan with another airline. I can save money and get my family on the best flight possible by planning ahead. As the holiday season draws near, airfare prices (and frequent flyer point requirements) tend to rise.

You could keep an eye out for sales.

If you book now, you can guarantee yourself the best rate, but if the cash fare price drops later, you won't be able to take advantage of the difference.

If the fare for your flight drops after you've booked it, you can cancel without penalty and rebook with a different airline. However, keep in mind that the airline won't automatically rebook you at the lower price, so you'll need to keep a close eye on your flights to take advantage of this.

When changing your reservation to the same flight, some airlines, like Southwest, will simply re-price your fare. The whole thing can be done in under a minute and without even picking up the phone! The best part is that you can do this as many times as you like to ensure you always get the lowest possible price.

There is no longer any need to cross your fingers and hope for the best when making a reservation, as in the past you were stuck with whatever fare you booked unless you wanted to pay a hefty fee to cancel. You can now book in advance and keep an eye on the number of points or miles to see if it drops.

Photographed by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Gain points immediately!

If you want to save money on a hotel stay but don't have enough points yet, you can still earn more points.

In light of the recently announced lucrative credit card offers, it is now possible to quickly amass a substantial number of points after a single credit card approval and welcome bonus. Although it probably won't cover the entire cost of your vacation, it should help quite a bit.

Case in point: the The Premier Credit Card with IHG Rewards offers a bonus of 140,000 points after a customer spends $3,000 in the first three months of opening an account. Every time you use this card to book a hotel and redeem points, you'll get a free fourth award night. Since the fourth night at the all-inclusive Holiday Inn Montego Bay in Jamaica doesn't increase the total cost, a family of four could stay there for only 37,500 points per night.

Since award availability and the required number of points are subject to change at any time, it's best to try to earn them as quickly as possible.

The following screenshot is courtesy of IHG.

Like if you were looking for a Marriott hotel, the Bonvoy Continuum Credit Card from Marriott After making purchases totaling $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account, you will receive three Free Night Awards (each worth up to 50,000 points). It's common practice for some hotels to charge guests a "resort

The bonus feature of topping off the certificate by paying the difference in points is set to go into effect in the coming weeks, so fingers crossed! It's great news because now you can use the certificate at any hotel, rather than just those on the approved list. Additionally, the certificate can be used on days with premium pricing if enough points are in your account.

While approximately 200 Marriott properties have adopted more dynamic pricing, the rest won't follow suit until later this year.

In the case of the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, for instance, you can use three of the certificates included in the credit card promotion to book a room there during the peak season. A night at the hotel during the holidays normally costs more than 0, so this is a fantastic deal.

This is a screenshot from the Marriott website. com)

On the other hand, if you'd rather not stress over whether or not an award slot is open, the Credit Card with Rewards from Capital One Venture will let you book your trip as a paid fare, then use points to pay for the trip outright

Not only that, but if you book your flights via the Capital One travel site, you have access to predictive pricing advice powered by Hopper -- and potentially some built-in price protection coverage if it tells you now is the time to buy and the price drops

Simply put

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists visiting all parts of the world, and hotels and other lodgings are quickly filling Both the upcoming summer vacation and the winter holiday seasons are affected by this. In case you're determined to take a holiday trip this year, we recommend starting your preparations as soon as possible. Get the ball rolling on planning your next vacation and think about whether or not it makes sense to lock in a few details sooner rather than later while still taking advantage of the wiggle room provided by the various change policies.

There will always be options later on, but if you have your heart set on a particular destination and can only get there with the help of your points and miles, now is the time to book.

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