The great holiday dilemma: When to Book a Holiday
The biggest dilemma people face when trying to book a holiday is: will they save by booking early or are there better deals available at the last-minute? Here we will help you look at both arguments to enable you find the best option.
Your current situation
If you have a family with children of School age, work in a job with restricted holiday times or have a fixed idea on the type of holiday you want to go on, booking as soon as possible will be your best bet.
Try getting in early to enable you get the pick of the crop and to get the holiday you want before everyone else jumps in and snaps up those valuable seats on the plane. This is especially important for departures during the busy school holiday periods.
However, if you’re just after a relaxing week away in the sun as a pick-me-up or are happy to be inspired by deals currently available, booking late and waiting for a bargain might suit you better.
How flexible are you?
If you have to travel at a set time or have a specific room or hotel requirement, booking now will mean you won’t have to compromise on your day of departure, or any other element of your break – one perk of booking early is that, you’ll get the best choice of hotel or hotel room type, destinations and holiday length.
If, on the other hand, you are truly flexible in terms of where and when you can travel then leaving it late and playing ‘holiday roulette’ can pay off with some excellent late deals. You are definitely not going to find many last-minute bargains in peak periods, though, so be aware that holiday choices will be limited and last-minute prices tends to rise, not fall – even for package holidays.
Note too that any holiday involving a low-cost or scheduled flight is highly unlikely to ever get cheaper except on an off-peak date to a destination that is not currently popular. In our experience, prices for these trips always go upwards the later you leave it.
Bet you think best offers are always available at the last minute, right? Wrong! Booking early means you can take advantage of early booking discounts such as free or highly discounted child places, free night deals, meal deals, room upgrade deals and single traveller deals– all of which can greatly reduce the total cost of your holiday.
The big tour operators, such as Disney, Thomas Cook, Olympic Holidays, First Choice, Airtours, Jet2holidays, Virgin Holidays, and Balkan, will have their summer 2018 holidays on sale now. Scheduled flights such as British Airways usually release dates 11 moths ahead , while the likes of easyJet and Ryanair are likely to release their summer 2018 flights after the current summer season – usually this is around September for Ryanair, and November for easyJet. The winter flight schedules for later this year are already on sale – sign up with us for alerts and you can be one of the first in the know.
Again, if you’re flexible and purely motivated by price, a last-minute deal might be better for you. Sign up to travel conzult newsletters to stand the best chance of spotting those killer deals before anyone else.
Pay now vs paying later
It can be tempting to put off booking a holiday until the last minute to avoid paying anything now. Remember, there are special schemes to encourage early booking such as– deposits can be as low as £1 per person, with the balance being paid as late as four weeks prior to departure.
While for a package holiday the deposits are usually higher, around £50-£100 per person, with the full balance due around 12 weeks prior to departure. So, let us help you shop around for deals – this gives you plenty of time to save up for your balance and spending money, especially if booking for next summer.
If you can’t find an early booking deal, putting this cost off may sound appealing to you, but think about other restrictions of booking late too.
For example, late deals usually means you are paying off a holiday on your card long after you are back. Booking early, will enable you pay up before you go.
Do you have nerves of steel?
People with nerves of steel and who enjoy the challenge of finding a last-minute deal, booking late will suit you. During the winter months you can often find some fantastic last-minute deals, especially if you avoid the school holidays, so a cheeky break in the sun can be a bargain.
It is advisable to book now or early no matter the type of holiday to avoid the heartache and hassle of not finding the right holiday for you when you want it. Getting sorted in advance means you’ll have a choice of all the deals available to ensure you get the best deal for you.
And what’s better than having something to look forward to through the long winter months?
If you book in advance, always opt for an ATOL-backed package holiday if possible and ensure you buy a decent travel insurance policy as soon as you book not only for peace of mind but to protect your holiday from unforeseen events from now until you return from your break.