Discover the best times to book holidays and save money. This guide offers smart, budget-friendly tips for every season.
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Booking a holiday doesn’t have to break the bank.
By picking the right time to book, you could end up with a fantastic holiday that leaves you with a bit of extra spending money.
Cheapest time to book a holiday
Timing is everything when you want to get the overall cheapest break.
I HATE it when I shop for something and then see a sale land the week after! It’s the same when looking at holiday prices.
Prices can jump up and down from week to week – and even daily – so when is the best time to look?
A good bet is that you’ll usually find the best deals for the school summer holidays around 5 to 6 months before, particularly if you plan to go to a popular hotspot.
So, booking a holiday in January, February, or March will generally get you the best prices for a July/August getaway.
You’ll find the January sales help to offer money off or extras on top of your trip.
When looking at timings, if you can book in the last two weeks of August, you will generally find that they are the cheapest weeks as there is less demand.
Cheaper still, you may find that booking a sun or beach holiday in May gets you more overall value. Not all countries have May as a holiday so that you won’t compete with locals on pricing.
Booking just a few weeks, or even days, before you go may get you a lower price, but it can depend on who you travel with.
Travelling with kids?
If you’re booking a summer holiday with your family in mind at the last minute, the best time to book a week’s break is around five weeks before departure. This is for both a self-catering break as well as an all-inclusive hotel.
For a 3-night city break, they are generally cheaper around nine weeks before you leave.
Try looking into Barcelona (for the beach and city life), Prague, or Berlin.
Travelling solo or as a couple?
For a more extended break, try booking two weeks before you plan to travel. If it’s an all-inclusive break, booking just one week before travel may get you better pricing, according to Travel Supermarket.
If you are looking at short 3-night city breaks for culture, try booking three weeks before you jet off.
It can be a gamble, though. You can find fantastic deals, but choices will be much more limited. It’s a bit like a lucky dip!
Late summer can be a good time for a winter break.
As summer ends, fewer people are looking to book holidays, so companies offer deals to fill their winter slots.
Try looking around four months in advance for any bookings.
However, for a skiing break, book 10 to 12 months ahead.
Booking a flight with the best prices can be pretty easy when you know what to look out for.
Try to book flights three to nine months in advance whenever possible, as last-minute deals don’t come around too often, according to Jacks Flight Club.
Airlines don’t mind keeping seats open to the last minute, hoping that people flying for business will take them (and don’t necessarily worry so much about the higher prices).
If you’re not too fussy about where you’ll go, pop in your departure airport on Skyscanner, then choose the option for “everywhere”. You’ll get a choice of destinations and can pick one according to your budget.
You may not want to jet-set to your holiday destination.
Instead, if you are looking to book an Airbnb to stay somewhere in the UK, there are also some timings worth considering.
March can be one of the best months to book your stay as the prices are generally predicted to be low.
September and early October also can see lower prices.
The cheapest time to actually stay in a property would be from the middle of January to early February.
Airlines tend to release new deals around Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Because there are plenty of new flights and seats, there’s often less competition from other passengers to snap them up.
However, Expedia has pointed out that a Sunday could save you 10% on flights.
Off-peak is the time when fewer people are travelling, and places will be less busy. Think outside the summer and school holidays and big events.
Airlines and hotels often lower prices during these times to attract more customers. It’s a bit like shops having sales when they’re not very busy.
Tips to get the cheapest holiday
Use price alerts
Websites that tell you when prices for flights or hotels go down.
You can save time as you don’t have to keep checking prices daily. The alerts do the work for you!
Have a look at the options on Google Flight tracker.
If you can, be open about where and when you go.
More flexibility often means more choices for cheaper deals.
In 2023, according to Skyscanner data, Vigo in Spain was the cheapest flight destination, with returning flights costing £61 per person (on average).
You may have your heart set on a particular location, but why not look into another cheaper place to visit if it’s just a break you’re after?
Or, why not just have a free holiday? Although, it will likely not be the stereotypical break.
Low prices are great, but make sure the place you’re booking with has good customer service and track record, as well as the place you want to go, which is nice too.
Read the fine print
Make sure there are no hidden costs.
You may see the flights and think you have a bargain, but do you need to add on baggage costs (or the other hundred things airlines try to upsell nowadays!)?