The best time to book a holiday

Getting a cheap holiday is all down to booking at the right time

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist


Whether you’re travelling on a budget or thinking of embarking on a working holiday, the time you book can make a huge difference to the price you pay. Here’s our tips on the best time to book a holiday and bag a bargain.

Sale away

It seems that no sooner has Santa scarpered back up the chimney that the holiday sale ads start shouting at you from your feed/inbox/TV/wireless (delete according to generation). But just because everybody is telling you to do it, it doesn’t mean that shopping in the sales is wrong and intense competition does mean the prices usually hit rock bottom in January. “The trend for holiday companies always leans towards big sales at the beginning of the year – and this makes complete sense,” says a Virgin Holidays insider. “It’s the coldest time of year in the UK, which usually increases people’s appetite for warmer climes – why wouldn’t someone want to be on a Caribbean beach when everyone else is freezing back at home!”

Late is great....

“One insider tip is to look for late deals,” says our Virgin Holidays source. “Traditionally, these offers tend to be for departure dates from two to six weeks from the time of booking, so you’ll need to be flexible, but if you’re willing to plan quickly there are some amazing deals to be had!”

...unless you’ve got kids at school

Yes, it’s unfair that prices shoot up as soon as the schools break up, but there are ways not to pay through the nose. Your best bet is to get ahead of yourselves – way ahead of yourselves – and book a year in advance. A package holiday booked in August for the following year is usually as cheap as it gets, so turn that Instagram envy of your friends’ dream holidays into early-booking smugness. Also, check if your kids’ school breaks up or goes back earlier/later than most others. Some authorities add teacher training days onto the school holidays and twenty-four hours can make all the difference to the price.

Take cover

Booked your holiday? Before cracking open the bubbly you should sort your travel insurance. Getting a policy early won’t necessarily save you any cash off the policy price, but it does mean you’re covered should you have to cancel any time before your holiday begins.

Hire learning

You can spend hours scouring the net for savings on flights and accommodation only to blow a fortune on car hire extras – particularly on sat nav, child car seats and insurance. Don’t bother. It’s usually cheaper to use your smartphone as your sat nav than to hire one (just be sure to invest in a data roaming package should you need one and to turn data off once you’ve locked in your destination to save using all your allowance on the road). Most airlines will let you put your child car seat in the hold for free so take them up on the offer and when it comes to insurance, specialist companies such as insurance4carhire.com will usually give you the works at a far lower price than the hire desk, with multi-trip annual insurance often as low as £40.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.