Are you one of those people who books your summer holiday really far in advance? Or are you like me and struggle to commit to anything more than a few months away? I stubbornly refuse to book in January in case a better holiday idea comes along, or I have more money to spend in February, or a better last minute deal appears.
I’m the same with work, I procrastincate and wait until the punishing glare of the deadline, fearful anything I deliver earlier, won’t be the best it could be.
This year however, we’re attempting booking with two other families, which is an interesting new challenge for us. We’ve been looking at Croatia, Italy and Greece. In the time we have been talking we’ve noticed the prices for flights coming up and the options for accommodation reducing. So have we left it too late?
Should you book summer holidays early or late?
There is evidence for both sides.
It may make sense to book earlier, especially if you are particular about specific facilities, or want to take advantage of early offers or child free places, but increasingly booking well ahead is not how modern holidaymakers work. Offers early on can also be deceptive too, so always cross reference prices.
Travel companies will become more anxious to flog empty rooms the closer you get to the date, but then leaving it too late isn’t so practical with juggling kids and jobs, or bagging specific hotels or childcare.
Top tips to bag a cheap late summer holiday deal
There are some great guidelines out there if you want to bag a summer deal. It really helps if you can be flexible.
- Book by April. Book in the first four month’s of the year, some research suggests this is when more cheap flights tend to be available. I like this, it gives me hope, and a deadline other than January, which we missed. MSE suggests the best deals are 8-10 weeks before travel for package holidays.
- Book for later in August. There is often a rush to get away at the start of the summer, and prices do tend to come down the closer to the end of the holidays you get.
- Discount and comparison sites. If you find a deal, always quickly have a google for a discount code and/or use a comparison site (e.g. Ice Lolly, Travel Supermarket) to check for a cheaper deal or special offer. Groupon for example has discount codes for First Choice currently.
- Flights First. Look for cheap flight destinations to inspire where you travel to, rather than finding your dream destination and then realising the flights are eye watering. Flexibility is the secret. Always ask about ATOL protection for your trip, package holidays should be and non package trips often are when booked via the same travel site within 24 hours. You could also compare booking separately, without ATOL protection. MSE have more expert guidance on this.
- Play with the days. Booking a summer holiday is always a juggling act and everyone wants to make the most of weekends, but some 2016 data shows that the five most popular departure dates in the whole of summer were the four Fridays in August, plus the last Friday in July. Other data shows Saturday as the most expensive and Friday as the cheapest. Sunday in the summer is the most popular day to fly home to the UK, so try for Monday or Tuesday. Basically, be prepared to be flexible and play with days.
- Unusual Numbers. Try 15 days instead of 14, or 8 instead of 7.
- Book on a Monday. According to Skyscanner this is the cheapest time to book. Check their guide for the best times to book and travel to different destinations.
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