Ready for summer vacation? We thought so. But even though we still have a few more months of snow and bluster, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking ahead. In fact, winter is actually the perfect time to book your summer vacation.

Here are 6 reasons to start your summer vacation trip planning now.

1. You could get first dibs on desirable days off

Always wanted to spend the Fourth in Washington D.C. or attend a music festival in August? Now’s the perfect time to get those dates on the calendar before Ted in accounting snakes the long weekend you were looking for.

In addition to having first crack at your dates of choice, cementing days off early means one thing: you’re locked in. So, when your boss comes to you with a grand plan to update the website or do inventory planning for the week of your R&R, you can say truthfully — “Sorry, my vacation request was already approved.”

2. You will actually take it

The sad truth is more than half of American workers don’t use all their vacation time. (Sorry, you can’t take theirs too!) There are many reasons people don’t take the time they deserve, but if your summer vacation is planned and paid for, chances are good very little will deter you from actually ditching the office.

3. You can snag better deals

The closer you get to a trip, the pricier everything becomes, particularly airfare and hotels. That’s because as demand goes up, prices rise accordingly, so try to book the key parts of your vacation before everyone else does. Even if you’re road tripping, early booking is important since many of the low-cost accommodations can fill up the fastest, leaving the late booker with the spendy leftovers.

4. You have more options

In addition to potentially getting a better price, you’re also more likely to achieve your choice of routes and locations. Many popular destinations, like national parks and cool campsites, book up early, as do the most desirable accommodations in key tourist locales. The most appealing rental houses, in particular, go fast, so get them now while they’re still available.

Check out:  7 Surprising Driving Distractions (Infographic)

5. You can vacation budget adequately

Credit card bills that arrive after vacation are as unwelcome as that lingering sunburn. But by planning in advance, you’ll have a clearer picture of what everything will cost so you can plan accordingly and set aside the funds now. You might even find it’s easier to give up that daily latte when you know you’re just swapping it for a poolside cocktail in a few short months. You can also keep pictures of your destination on your phone so when temptation strikes, you won’t have to go far to visualize why you’re forgoing a splurge.

Knowing where and when you’re going also lets you comparison shop to find great deals on food and entertainment to ease the vacation budget. Consider signing up for daily deal sites in the area you’re visiting so you can nab coupons for activities and restaurants in advance.

6. You have the joy of anticipation

Planning your vacation, learning about the city or culture you’ll be experiencing, and talking about your upcoming trip with family and friends can be a crucial component of your enjoyment. In fact, participants in one study were happier anticipating a vacation than they were reminiscing upon their return. And the earlier you plan, the more time you have to immerse yourself in the upcoming event.

Early planning also gives you ample time to address another important part of your preparation: double-checking your insurance coverage. From travel trailer insurance to roadside assistance, make sure you’re covered wherever you travel.

Travel hacks | Getting there

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.