Choosing a holiday deal
Last minute vs booking in advance
There are many ways you can get a bargain for your holiday, but whatever you do, you have to make sure you’re on the ball when it comes to booking your getaway so you don’t miss out on a great deal. Here are my tips for finding holiday offers, whether you’re arranging it at the last minute or months in advance.
• Last-minute offers
Booking late deals can often get you very good discounts on your holiday. As airlines, hotels, cruise ships and trains all want to make sure all their seats or rooms are filled, they will drop their prices when the holiday date creeps closer. This way, they can be confident that they will not have any vacancies, which will in turn ensure they at least get some money for that period of time, as opposed to none at all.
Lots of people talk about their amazing last-minute offers all the time, but it’s often not as easy to book these deals as they may make out. I sometimes find that even if I get the practical things sorted (booking time off work, getting a bag packed and passport ready), I still can’t locate those amazing offers, or they’ve all sold out already.
The trick to getting good last-minute offers, such as deals on Caribbean holidays or discounts on city breaks in New York, is to be as quick as possible (which may sound ironic as you can only really book last-minute offers if, in fact, you’ve been slow at organising your holiday). You need to sit down for a good few hours on the internet and search all the tour operators and flight websites you can think of and, when you find the perfect combination, you should just book straightaway before you lose it.
When looking, search for a variety of criteria, so you can change your options on each site and find the cheapest deal for you. Things you could alter include your airports, destination, date of arrival or departure, and whether you can take direct or indirect flights. Remember to write down the cost for each alternative, so you know what the best arrangement for you is – you don’t want to forget and then have to start your search again, potentially losing the great deal in the meantime!
• Booking in advance
The other option for getting a good deal on your holiday is to book a long time in advance. I typically make a booking three to four months before I plan to fly if I am not looking for a discount but, to get the best deals, you should really consider beginning your search up to a year earlier than your departure date.
This requires you to be super -organised and have the dates you want to travel in mind, but, as you are booking well ahead, you can also afford to be a bit more flexible. You might find that lots of websites do not allow you to arrange your bookings this far in advance, as they haven’t been offered the vacancies from the airline or hotel yet. Therefore, the best thing you can do is go through a travel agent or contact the travel provider directly.
By arranging your break with a tour operator, they can try to get you a good deal as they know that resorts, trains, planes and so on, and want to guarantee bookings – even this far in advance. Alternatively, calling the hotel or airline yourself may mean they can offer you prices that haven’t been released to the public yet and aren’t subject to commission charges from the travel agents.