When is the best time to book a family holiday?
A common debate among parents is whether it’s better to book family holidays well in advance to have a definite plan in place, or to wait until closer to the time to nab a bargain.
The coronavirus pandemic has added an extra layer of complexity to this conundrum as travel has been uncertain, traffic light lists have changed, and headlines have shouted about bookings surging and a lack of availability.
To help you feel confident when booking your next family holiday and to prevent any pitfalls along the way, here we look at the pros and cons of being an early booker.
The early bird catches the worm
As a solo traveller or a couple, you’re usually quite flexible around when and where you go on holiday. But, when you travel with children, you start to be restricted to school holidays and have more complex requirements when it comes to choosing accommodation. So, if you have a clear idea in your head around where you’d like to go with the brood and are committed to a certain week or two, booking in advance will give you more choice.
You can currently book flights with easyJet, as an example, up to a year in advance and accommodation is available for more than a year in advance on tripAbrood too, so booking now could help you to nab the room type and the flight times you’d like.
You’ll see the best range of accommodation
When you book early, you’re also more likely to be able to choose between a range of accommodation types, from budget hotels to swish self-catering villas. At the last minute, you may have to compromise on location, room type or board basis as you’re restricted to a more limited selection.
So, while booking late may be associated with grabbing a bargain, if you have specific requirements, such as needing an interconnecting room, this may be a false economy. Plus, prices may up, not down, if demand outstrips supply.
What happens if things change?
The current element of risk around booking a holiday in advance is that the situation with Covid-19 changes. So, when booking any travel at the moment, it’s essential to read booking terms and conditions carefully before committing, looking for a cancellation policy that you feel comfortable with.
Many travel companies, however, understand this uncertainty and have introduced flexible booking policies. tripAbrood has a “Book with confidence” policy, which means that all rooms booked are refundable up to a date clearly specified. If you cancel by this agreed date, you’re guaranteed a refund, rather than a credit note, too.
Peace of mind
For extra peace of mind when booking any travel, you should also take out a travel insurance policy on the day you book that covers you for unexpected cancellations in the run-up to a trip, Covid-19 related disruption, plus other travel insurance essentials such as medical cover, lost baggage and end supplier failure (this will pay out if a company you book with goes out of business).
It’s also sensible to pay with a credit card to benefit from protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act – this makes your credit card company equally responsible if something goes wrong. This applies for items costing more than £100 and up to £30,000.
You’ll all have time to get excited
Kids love counting down to big events, and having a holiday in the calendar is something all of the brood can get excited about together. When you know where you’re going in advance, you all have time to learn more about your destination before you arrive, which will help the kids feel involved.
When you book accommodation with tripAbrood, we’ll send you a fun Arrive Like a Local pack about the part of the world you’re travelling to. These are filled with facts, phrases, recipes and activities, and will help your children to arrive into your destination confidently and ready to learn even more.
I’ve left it to the last-minute to book – am I too late?
If your plans go wrong or you make a last-minute decision that you need a holiday, don’t panic if you can’t find places to stay immediately – all is not lost.
You may just need to think differently about destinations. Perhaps consider staying in a city where there’s a bigger choice of places to stay, combining day trips to a nearby beach with culture-filled days. Or look at a variety of dates and number of nights away. Last summer, we saw more availability from mid-August onwards.
Should I consider anything else?
If you are booking a holiday abroad, always check the current advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). If the FCDO is advising against all but essential travel to your destination, standard travel insurance policies are likely to be invalid.
You should also check what the rules are around entry requirements for the country you are travelling to and what the rules are for your return to the UK. Do this both before booking and in the run-up to your trip, thinking about any cancellation deadlines and time limits for travel tests if you need to take them.