I’m sure you’ve heard it said before – ‘book your family holiday as far in advance as possible to get the best deal’ – but is this always true? If you’re busy planning your summer getaway a whole year in advance, you may be missing out on some of the cheapest holiday deals around.
The key to getting a great deal is often to look at offers in the eight weeks before your departure date. Booking eight weeks in advance or less constitutes a last-minute holiday, and it’s here you’ll find all the best prices. Discount travel sites will knock up to 70% off the cost of a holiday as the countdown gets close, starting at eight weeks and going right up until the day before your flights. You can save 2/3 off the price by waiting to book in this time period instead of planning a year in advance, even if you’re travelling during school holidays!
Of course, it is difficult to wait that long, especially for people who love to plan and are highly organised. But it will benefit you in the long run to wait it out, and booking two months before your departure still gives you plenty of time to research the best beaches and attractions in the area. If you’re worried about not having enough time to get things done there are a few handy hacks to help you prepare for your last-minute holiday.
Instead of making a list with pen and paper, think 21st century and download a holiday app on your smartphone. There are tons of travel apps on the market and they each have their own use, from what-to-pack lists, flight trackers and detailed maps of the city you’re visiting, to nearby restaurant reviews. With all these apps in your repertoire you’ll be totally prepared when you step off the plane and into the sunshine.
To make it even easier on yourself, browse package deals rather than going for the DIY route, so flights, transfers and even food and drink for the whole family is included in the holiday price. Almost all major tour operators offer deals for last minute travellers, so you don’t have to rely on cheap flight or cheap hotel sites – you can book it all at once, and any queries or changes can be dealt with in one place.
Tempting as it may be, don’t be too keen and book super early at full price. Hold off and do your research on where you’d like to visit, and what activities and sight-seeing adventures there are in the area. The closer you get to your departure the cheaper the deals will be, and you can book your last-minute holiday knowing you’ve snagged the best price and gotten the best bang for your buck.
When it comes to planning, get the kids involved as much as possible. Pay attention to a few different destinations and monitor when their package holidays go on sale. When you’ve decided on the top three to five spots you’d like to travel to, have a mystery games family night. Describe each place and show photos of the surrounding areas before you have the kids pick which spot they would like to travel to. Since you’ve already narrowed it down to a few good last-minute deals, you won’t need to worry about them picking the most expensive one.
How much could you save?
Depending on where you look, the average cost of a European family holiday for four people ranges between £2,000 and £3,000. When you consider that there were headlines recently about a two-week package holiday to Greece being sold for £87pp at the last minute, suddenly leaving things late looks like quite a good idea.
Those end-of-sale discounts often put family-friendly holidays at around £150pp, depending on where you’re flying from, which means there’s clear potential to save yourself plenty of cash for another holiday – or a longer one!