Planning is the key to success when it comes to getting a budget holiday.
There are many things that you can influence such as when you book, how you travel, whether you go package or build your own agenda. All of these things can have a significant impact on the price you pay. Above all, each of these things are within your control!
When to Book
Most people know exactly when they are intending to take a vacation. This can be used to your advantage when it comes to planning.
Deciding on when to book is a bit of a gamble. Whilst many tour operators will offer cheaper prices and early booking discounts, you may find that last minute deals are also available which will prove better financially.
There are many factors that you should take into account when deciding on when to book for maximum financial gain:
- Are you flexible in terms of dates that you are prepared to travel?
- Are you flexible in terms of destinations that you are prepared to travel to?
- Will you be buying a package deal or will you be building your own package?
- Are you considering a popular destination where many tour operators or flight companies travel?
Firstly, if you are flexible in terms of location and dates then you will almost certainly benefit from waiting until the last minute to book your holiday. Last minute deals are, of course, something that you cannot rely upon and if you are set on going to a certain destination at a certain date then last minute is far too risky.
If you are planning on creating your own package then you need to be aware that you are taking multiple gambles. For example, you need to consider your airfare, hotels and transport.
Whilst you may get an excellent last minute flight, you may not be so lucky when it comes to the hotel or car hire. In fact, you may find that paying a premium for other parts of your holiday will end up out-weighing any last minute savings you have made.
As a general rule, if you are looking to go on a specific holiday, a cruise, for example, with a specific company or a destination that is only offered by a few operators, you may find that last minute bargains are simply not available. Cruising is a classic example of this.
A cruise line will offer holidays for a certain price, whilst they may offer their holidays through different agents who may individually offer discounts, the actual price of the cruise is likely to remain very similar no matter who you go to for your price.
Choosing Your Season And Destination
The two key things that can have a huge impact on the cost of your vacation are the destination and the time of year. In fact, the single biggest saver is likely to be when you travel, not how successfully you manage to haggle for that last minute hotel bargain!
Don’t overlook the importance of considering these two factors together. Some destinations will be extremely cheap at one time of year yet finding a bargain four months later may be impossible. Traveling to a popular destination at a peak time will never be cheap.
For example staying at a luxury hotel in a party city on New Year’s Eve is not likely to be a budget holiday; however, traveling to a traditional summer resort over New Year’s may be a very different story.
One thing that is very important to realize is that low seasons are low for a reason. A classic example of this is hurricane season in the Caribbean and Florida.
Other low seasons to be wary of are the extremely hot areas such as Egypt during the summer months, when the heat can be so oppressive that it makes the holiday less enjoyable.
Summer resorts are often so quiet during low season that there is quite literally nowhere open. This can be great for a retreat, but when it comes to a raging nightlife you may be sadly disappointed!
Shoulder season is the perfect time to be trying to travel for those who want to find a happy medium between low and peak seasons. Identifying where is in shoulder season when you want to travel or when your favorite destination is in shoulder season can save you literally hundreds of dollars.
Take a look at the guide books. Whilst they will not tell you when the shoulder season is, they will tell you when peak and low seasons are. The time in between, is, by definition, the shoulder season.
With almost every resort there is a period where the prices become low, not because the location is now poor but because all of the hotels and flights are still servicing the area but the demand is simply not there.
Examples of shoulder seasons are Europe in the fall and the Caribbean during late spring.
Winter is an interesting time of year to travel. Before Christmas, most individuals are trying to make last minute shopping trips. After Christmas, people are dealing with their credit card bills. As such, holidays on far off beaches are often incredibly cheap during the winter period.
Weather is variable in Asia during the winter which could mean that you are surrounded by snow one minute and then basking in glorious sunshine.
This lack of dependability is something that puts a lot of visitors off and can mean that there are some excellent bargains for those prepared to take the risk!
Mexican beaches and the Caribbean islands start to see their prices drop from mid April as the weather becomes hotter. However, during the spring months, the water and air temperatures are still pleasant and the resorts less crowded.
During later spring, for example May, the traditionally hot and dry countries are not in their peak seasons but have not yet become intolerably hot. So if you want to visit Morocco, Jordan or Egypt, plan a spring vacation.
Finding a bargain in summer is tricky. Americans, Japanese and Europeans are all on the move and this is also the time of year that most weddings take place, so honeymoon destinations are in a great deal of demand.
During the early part of summer, through June and July, Caribbean destinations are still good to get a deal, provided you try to book before the Europeans start to flood in during their school holidays at the end of July.
Safari holidays are a good option between June and September. High season ends in May, but the weather is still relatively dry.
Flights and hotels are still quite reasonable in Southeast Asia during the summer months, but temperatures can be quite hot, so if you can’t stand the heat, avoid this destination during the summer months.
This is the time to head to Europe. Flights to most major European destinations will be cheaper from October onwards, mainly because the schools are no longer on holiday and families are not traveling as much.
Temperatures are normally perfectly pleasant until mid November, so grab yourself a fall bargain in Europe.