Deciding exactly when to book your holiday can be one of the most challenging decisions of the entire getaway process. Do you leave it late to see if any last minute bargains come up, or is it best to book early to secure the best flights and hotels?
There are many things to consider, but it’s important to remember that, first and foremost, the best time to book a holiday will depend on the type of trip you want.
Do I leave it late?
This is one of the best ways to secure a summer holiday that won’t break the bank. However, you may need to be flexible on the location, dates and hotel if you are going to use this option.
The closer it gets to departure day, the more desperate businesses get in trying to sell unsold plane tickets and hotel rooms, so prices drop further and further. There are some great savings to be had here, but you should be aware that some of the better hotels and dates may have sold out well in advance.
If you’re flexible about your summer holiday, this could be the best method for you. Although it can certainly help to save money, according to MoneySavingExpert.com’s cheap holiday haggling guide, leaving it ‘late’ means booking no more than 10 weeks in advance, so this may not be the most suitable option if you’re planning your getaway around your work rota or university timetable.
Is booking early the best option for me?
If you know exactly when you plan to go on holiday, where you want to go and the type of hotel you want, booking early can be the way to go as there will be slightly less demand for the premium packages.
Many travel operators will offer ‘early bird’ deals to try to fill up their aeroplane seats and hotel rooms as quickly as possible. These early deals could include money off for couples or kids going free or half price, as well as discounted entry to some major tourist attractions. Deals of this kind are perfect if you’re planning a romantic break with your partner or jetting off with a large group of friends.
When your holiday really does have to be perfect in every way, it’s best to book before everyone else, just to give yourself peace of mind that all of your requirements have been met well in advance.
Be flexible on your destination
MoneySavingExpert.com goes on to say that, if you’re looking for the best deals, choosing a destination that is less popular with holidaymakers could be the way forward. However, you will need to do some research beforehand, as you’ll need to get a clear idea of why that destination is not as popular. Is it relatively remote? Has it experienced civil unrest? Is it facing economic uncertainty?
Earlier this year, the Financial Times reported that, thanks to the migration crisis in parts of Greece and Southern Europe, the cost of visiting such countries as France and Italy has soared by as much as 32%.
However, situations like this could mean that you save hundreds of pounds on your summer holiday. You may be able to find cheaper deals on holidays to Greece because hotel rooms have been left empty by holidaymakers who have been put off by what they have read in the news.
If you’d like some inspiration in terms of where to visit on a student budget, we recommend checking out the MyVoucherCodes site, which has suggested a range of student-friendly holiday destinations for you to discover.
What are you looking to get out of your holiday?
It’s important to remember that different resorts come alive at different times of the year, which may have an impact on when you book.
Halifax says that city breaks to places like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris are most popular in early autumn and late spring, while skiing holidays to the likes of Austria and the Alps usually sell out of their most popular resorts around Christmas, New Year and February.
This indicates that the best time to book your escape very much depends on the type of holiday you seek.
The value of the pound should play a role
As a student, there are lots of things that you need to pay for, so it’s important that you make your money stretch as far as possible.
As a result of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the pound has become weaker - dropping against the Euro and the dollar - meaning that you will now effectively get less spending money to take abroad with you when you head to a destination using the aforementioned currencies, and less money when you change it back again on your return to UK soil.
Keep an eye on the state of the pound and try to book a holiday when it’s performing strongly. Of course, this may not always be possible, but it will mean that your money goes a bit further.
When is best to book?
With an ever-changing timetable, coursework to complete, exam revision to contend with and maybe even a part-time job to factor in, it can be difficult to put an exact date on when to book your summer holiday. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that fits around your timetable, booking late will open up a huge range of deals - just be prepared for the fact that your first choice destination may have sold out.
If, however, you’re planning to go away after university has finished, booking early means that you can secure the best flights, departure times and hotels. Booking up to eight or nine months in advance will reduce the number of cut-price packages available to you, but it will save you the hassle and stress of trying to organise everything at the last minute. This means that you can just jet off and relax, knowing that you have taken care of all of the essentials.