Gone are the days of fixed holiday prices. Today, tour operators and airlines use innovative technology to adjust prices regularly, reducing the cost when tickets aren’t selling and raising the price when a date or location is in demand.
We discuss the best times to book your holidays, from the cheapest seasons to the most inexpensive weekdays.
Consumer watchdog Which? crunched two years of data from the flight price comparison website Skyscanner and discovered the best time for booking a flight was three months before you travel.
The only exception was if you need to travel during the peak summer season because of school holidays, in which case you need to book six months ahead.
Research by online travel agency Opodo also revealed January was the cheapest month for flight prices, so is the best time to book if you’re looking to fly in July or August.
Wait until July to book and flight prices are at their highest. Sunday proved to be the cheapest day for booking a flight, followed by Monday
Prices for hotels are generally more set, so getting an early booking discount isn’t as common or rewarding.
According to Expedia, booking on a Friday can save money if you’re holidaying in the UK, while Sunday is typically the most expensive.
For international hotels, booking on a Wednesday saves you 5%, with the most expensive day being Saturday.
Travelling over the festive period can result in Christmas savings, according to our research.
The data, which included all travel operators, showed that a family of four could save 57% on their Christmas costs by swapping frosty Britain for a week in sunny Portugal.
A week away costs £345 – a £464 saving on what a four-person family will typically spend over Christmas (£809).
In fact, the data reveals that Portugal is the cheapest ‘thriftscape’ for all traveller-types across the Christmas period, followed by Spain and Malta.
|Traveller type and cost||Portugal: cost and saving||Spain: cost and saving||Malta: cost and saving||Riga: cost and saving||Krakow: cost and saving|
|Single traveller (£339)||£235 cost, £104 saving (31%)||£242 cost, £97 saving (29%)||£231 cost, £108 saving (31%)||£365 cost, -£26 saving (+8%)||£359 cost, -£20 saving (+6%)|
|Couple (£567)||£251 cost, £316 saving (56%)||£328 cost, £239 saving (42%)||£383 cost, £184 saving (32%)||£551 cost, £16 saving (3%)||£798 cost, -£231 saving (+41%)|
|Family of three (£581)||£300 cost, £281 saving (48%)||£391 cost, £190 saving (33%)||£570 cost, £11 saving (2%)||£518 cost, £63 saving (10%)||£1,055 cost, -£474 saving (+82%)|
|Family of four (£809)||£345 cost, £464 saving (57%)||£444 cost, £365 saving (45%)||£746 cost, £63 saving (8%)||£812 cost, -£3 saving (+0.4%)||£1,064 cost, -£255 saving (+32%)|
Booking three to six months ahead of time for a car rental is best; there isn’t much advantage to booking further in advance.
For transfers, the booking time doesn’t matter. You’ll get better value by comparing options and taking public transport.
The best time depends on your trip, when you’re going, the insurance you buy and what you’ll be doing abroad.
In general, we recommend getting insurance as early as possible after you’ve booked your trip, much like the other options.
We recommend buying single trip travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.
It’s the best way to get cover if you only travel once a year, so we recommend it if you’re buying insurance for one trip.
It covers you for things like sports and activities, emergency medical expenses and personal belongings.
A key benefit of single-trip insurance is holiday cancellation cover. This offers up to £5,000 of protection if something goes wrong, like travel disruption.
The level of cover depends on whether you get Admiral, Gold or Platinum.
Annual travel insurance, also known as multi-trip insurance, is ideal if you’re a frequent flyer. It takes away the hassle of arranging cover for every trip you go on.
It’s typically the cost-effective option if you travel more than once a year. It includes everything you need, including medical emergency cover, cancellation cover, personal liability, legal protection and personal belongings cover.
The cancellation cover on annual travel begins on the policy start date, not when you buy the insurance.
The best time to buy annual travel insurance is when you’ve booked your trips away, and make sure the policy start date lines up with your first holiday.
There is more specific travel insurance you can buy:
We can only insure you before you have passed through customs.
However, don’t get put off buying travel insurance late; it’s better to have protection than deal with having no insurance when abroad.