Go to your agent with specific dates
Call or visit with a realistic idea of your travel schedule. Rates can vary widely by season, and you'll get a better sense of how much you'll actually spend if you've already blocked out dates. A good specialist should be able to secure sold-out rooms (even during Christmas) on a moment's notice, but it's better for both of you if you call well in advance of a trip. A rough guideline: several weeks for a simple itinerary, three months before a major holiday, and up to a year for a cruise.