Research from TravelSupermarket has found that only 28% of holidaymakers have booked their main 2012 break already. However, the beginning of the year is an ideal time to book a holiday. Not only will it give you and your family something to look forward to, you could also save a significant amount of money by taking advantage of some of the deals available.

Here we explain why you should book now and how you can afford to do so…

Make sure you get your ideal holiday

If you have your heart set on a certain destination, a specific hotel or know exactly when you want to go away, booking now will give you the best possible chance of bagging your ideal holiday. As the date you want to travel approaches, the number of holidays and hotel rooms available will decrease significantly leaving the least popular options on offer.

And, despite many people assuming that waiting until the last minute will get them the best deal, prices can in fact go up as peak holiday dates approach. For example, in the lead up to the school summer holidays, prices of breaks in July and August tend to increase as families rush to book a getaway and scramble for what is left.

Snap up a great deal

As holiday companies try to persuade you to book with them this year, there are some great deals available at the moment including low deposit offers – which allow you to pay a small amount now and the balance nearer your time of travel – as well as discounts on summer holidays and free child places.

Some of the current tempting deals include easyJet Holidays’ book now, pay later offer where you can secure a July or August holiday with a £50 per person deposit. The full balance can then be paid any time up to two weeks before you travel. This offer is only available until the end of January and on certain routes, so snap it up now.

Cosmos Holidays have a similar deal where you can book a holiday with a £50 deposit. However, the total cost of the holiday must be paid 10 weeks before travel so, as with any offer, make sure that you always read the terms and conditions carefully to check that it is the best deal for you. Cosmos also has a Super Holiday Sale with villa and package holidays on offer for less than £249 per person.

Thomas Cook’s current low deposit deal is slightly higher at £75 per person (plus a flat £50 deposit for children), but there’s also an offer on summer holidays saving travellers up to £400, so take a look now to bag a bargain.

And, ebookers are offering up to 50% off hotels, beach breaks and city breaks in their Travel Happier sale until February 5.

How to find out about the latest deals

If you want to be the first to find out about similar holiday deals, make sure that you sign up to a travel newsletter, such as TravelSupermarket’s, to receive tips on booking a holiday, money-saving advice and links to offers and discount vouchers.

Check that you have a good deal

When you are looking at all of the latest offers, don’t be tempted to book the first “deal” that you see. Make sure that you have found the best possible price by searching for the same holiday using a price-comparison site such as TravelSupermarket which pulls in prices from both traditional tour operators such as Thomson, Thomas Cook and Cosmos, and online agencies such as, easyJet Holidays and Expedia.

And for a belt and braces approach, don’t forget to compare the price of booking a package holiday with buying flights and accommodation separately.

Build up a holiday fund

Booking your summer 2012 holiday now will not only give you something to look forward to, but will also focus your savings priorities. When budgeting, don’t forget to factor in the cost of spending money too and try to put away a small amount each week so you don’t have to panic at the last minute. 

And, as soon as you have booked your holiday, compare the price of travel insurance policies using a price-comparison site to find the best option for you. This will cover you for cancellation from day one and will offer peace of mind should anything go wrong.

Read the terms and conditions of policies carefully to check that you are covered for everything you need, and opt for a policy with End Supplier Failure which will protect you should any of the companies you have booked with collapse.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.