When to book a holiday? Tips for cheap bargains

Some people plan their holidays many months in advance, others book spontaneously last minute. But when do you get the best prices and what do the day of the week and time of day have to do with it? Read our tips for planning your next trip here!

When is the cheapest time to book a holiday?

The question of when you should book a holiday cannot be answered in a general way. It depends on many factors, such as the type of trip and the destination. Just one piece of information in advance: Last minute is not always the best option.

When to book a family holiday?

Family holidays are tied to the school holiday period except for very young children. For these weeks, a great many people then look for affordable holiday destinations. Waiting for last minute deals is definitely not advisable here, as family-friendly accommodation with childcare and popular facilities such as water parks with big slides are the first to be booked up. So when is the best time to book this holiday? Quite simply: at the earliest possible time, because then you will benefit twice.

The major tour operators usually offer early-booking discounts up to about six months before departure. This not only provides planning security for you, but also for the travel companies. They like to know early on that they are selling their products (i.e. package tours) and therefore entice you with special offers. So if you want to travel with your family during the summer holidays, you should book in late autumn or winter. For example, use the Christmas holidays to look for a destination together and dream of the next warm summer. At the same time, the selection of beautiful accommodation is at its widest now.

Family splashing happily in the pool because they knew when to book holidays
Family fun on summer holiday

The same period applies to other dates. For example, if you’re planning a family holiday to the Canary Islands during the Christmas holidays for sunshine and warmth, you should book in the summer. Just remember that the period over Christmas and New Year is particularly expensive, as many childless people travel then too. They take advantage of the many holidays during this time to escape the winter grey and sometimes the Christmas hustle and bustle at home.

Some more tips for families:

  • Look for departure airports in neighbouring states where there are then no school holidays;
  • Look for airports close to the border in neighbouring states where there are then no school holidays;
  • Choose a length of stay of 9 or 10 days instead of the usual 7 or 14 days.
  • Look out for further savings opportunities such as family rooms with four beds instead of two double rooms or flats with a kitchenette, which are often the first to be fully booked.

Hotels with childcare

TUI BLUE Tarida Beach
For All
Ibiza . Spain

When should you book short breaks?

In between a few days to escape the daily grind for a short while? This is where last-minute fans get their money’s worth, if they don’t commit to a specific destination or even hotel. If your desired destination is “somewhere by the sea where the sun is shining”, rummage around for last minute offers and let yourself be inspired. With a little luck, discounts of up to 50% are possible at dream destinations worldwide.

However, if you want to travel to a city with famous German Christmas markets such as Nuremberg, Dresden or Cologne in the run-up to Christmas, you have to expect high prices and full hotels. It’s better to book as early as possible while beds are still available at fair prices. The same applies to large folk festivals and other events.

Christmas market hut
It’s best to book your Christmas market visit early

A tip: For big events, it can be cheaper to book a hotel further away. You really want to go to Rome for the Easter Fair? Choose a hotel on the beach in Lazio and take the train into the city for the day. Again, when it comes to booking your holiday, the maxim is: as early as possible, because that’s when you have the most choice.

When is the best time to book long-distance travel?

Are you drawn to exotic climes and wondering when to book that holiday? Factors such as the early-booking and last-minute discounts offered by German tour operators are not the only ones that play a role here. Many countries are geared towards other target groups.

If you want to travel to the Caribbean islands, Mexico or Florida in spring, for example, you should keep the infamous American spring break in mind: The break between the winter and summer semesters at US universities. Young students travel south in droves to party and drive up prices along the Mexican Riviera Maya around Cancun, among other places.

Isla Mujeres Cancun mexico
The famous Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

If you’re heading to the beautiful countries of Southeast Asia, such as Thailand or Vietnam, find out in good time which weekend the Chinese New Year falls on. It is based on the new moon between 21 January and 21 February and many Asians (not only in China) take advantage of the multi-day celebrations for a holiday. On the other hand, you might be happy to pay a little extra to experience the New Year’s festival for yourself, with fireworks, dancing dragons and other festivities.

Last minute is rarely an option for long-haul travel, as tour operators have only a limited allotment of seats on long-haul flights. Here it is more likely to be more expensive than cheaper at short notice. And besides, the longer you book in advance, the more time you have to look forward to your dream trip!

Hotels in Asia

TUI BLUE Khao Lak Resort
For Two
Khao Lak . Thailand
TUI BLUE Mai Khao Lak
For Family
Khao Lak . Thailand
For All
Hoi An . Vietnam

What’s the deal with time and day of the week?

When you ask when is the best time to book a holiday, you often come across information about the day of the week and the time of day. However, this is not so much true for package holidays, where operators fix prices months in advance anyway, but for hotels, flights and other means of transport.

If you are planning a short trip to a metropolis by plane, you will fly cheaper on Tuesday and Thursday than on other days of the week. Many business travellers are away on Mondays and Fridays, and most holidaymakers return on Sundays. In cities with many business travellers, you can find bargains on hotels at the weekend, while short trips to tourist destinations in the mountains or by the sea are more expensive at the weekend than during the week.

The question of when to book a holiday is also a question of your possibilities. If you can book a holiday at your leisure during the day on weekdays, you should take advantage of this. On the internet, some holidays are more expensive in the evenings and at weekends, because then many more people have time to surf the internet and dream of the next holiday destination.

When to book a holiday? A summary

Now you have a good idea of when you should book a holiday. Here is an overview of the most important points:

  • Early booking discount combines generous discounts with great choice and is ideal for families who are tied to holidays and people who have a specific destination in mind.
  • Last minute is just the thing for anyone who just wants to go spontaneously to the sun or to the countryside, paying attention above all to the price.
  • Keep an eye on school holidays in other countries and book either very early or at other dates.
  • Avoid major events or choose accommodation further away and book these as early as possible.

One final tip: Wondering about very cheap prices for an exotic destination while browsing? It might not be because of the early booking discount, but because it’s the rainy season here. In that case, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to put up with rain showers and grey skies for the low price.

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