With Britain’s weather being so unpredictable it’s tempting to leave booking your family holiday until the very last minute. But even the five day weather forecast can be unreliable, and according to the Association of British Travel Agents it’s getting harder to find good value last minute deals, since operators are getting much better at predicting demand.
Since timing is everything, when is the best time to book your holiday in Britain? And when should you book it for?
Booking early – not just not at the last minute – is increasingly the best way to guarantee affordability, with prices climbing the longer you leave it. This is especially true when approaching the school holidays, with travel deals website Travelzoo estimating that the cost of a package holiday increases by 40% once school’s out. Most hotels offer early-bird discounts on summer stays booked in December and January. The cost of holidays for Dec 2014 booked via one luxury operator rocketed by 14% over February & March this year, and with a further 18% predicted by the end of May. So although it means getting yourself organised well in advance, booking early is more likely to get you a good discount than waiting.
If you’re not a parent, it makes sense to take your trips during term time. If you are, and you’re not one of the 50% of parents willing to make kids miss school just to get a cheap holiday, make sure you book well in advance and try to choose an up & coming place rather than somewhere super popular. This may require a bit of detective work – try keeping an eye on which areas have been putting on interesting events in the last couple of years and you might find a place that’s undergoing a renaissance.
Also look at towns that used to be popular a century ago, and are only just finding their feet again. This means they are likely to already have decent hotels built and a reason for having been popular in the first place (nice weather, good beach or whatever). Ventnor on the Isle of Wight is a good example of a Victorian seaside town that has grown trendy again (so trendy now that it’s no longer a cheap alternative!) while Lynton in Devon is a beautiful Victorian resort that is still lovely but a little dog-eared, and subsequently affordable.
If you’re trying to organise a family gathering and need a cottage in a place convenient to all, you might need to book it up to a year in advance. This is especially true if it’s for a national holiday like Easter or Christmas. And remember that you’ll need even longer to get your family into gear and let you know whether or not they’re available!
Day of the week
The conventional “wisdom” you’re most likely to hear is that it’s cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, but according to a major holiday booking website the cheapest days actually span Tuesday through to Thursday, with early mornings being the most affordable, and often least busy time to fly – this is ideal for parents who are used to being woken at the crack of dawn, since those of us who still have the luxury of pretending dawn doesn’t exist will’ve booked flights later in the day…