Why it pays to book your 2013 holiday now

If the long-awaited first pay packet after Christmas has landed in your bank account, and you’re planning a holiday in 2013, now could be the ideal time to book.

Not only are travel companies offering some great January deals but early bookers will have something definite in the diary to look forward to – whatever the British weather throws at us.

Here we outline the benefits of booking now as well as offering tips on how you can afford to do so.

Do you know where and when you want to go?

Have you been dreaming about visiting a certain destination or even a specific hotel? Or perhaps you are restricted to going away over the school holidays or during certain weeks of the year due to work commitments? If so, booking early will help you to guarantee that you get the holiday you want when you want as you’ll have the best choice of what is available.

This is particularly important to those travelling as a family as if you want to book two interconnecting rooms during the school holidays, for example, or snap up a place in a family-friendly hotel that’s on the beach, you stand the best chance of finding your ideal break now.

Prices do go up

A common dilemma for holidaymakers is whether to book early to take advantage of the great deal you have spotted or to wait until nearer the time to make sure that prices don’t suddenly drop.

If you are flexible on when and where you are going, the last-minute technique may be the best option for you. But, if you want to go away at a certain time of year, you’re better off snapping up a deal when you see it to make sure you’re not left sifting through a smaller choice of what’s left nearer the time.

And prices do, in fact, go up at certain times of the year.

In the run-up to peak holiday booking periods such as the summer school holidays, for example, prices tend to rise as parents decide they do want to get away and scramble to book whatever is left.

Take advantage of early booking deals

Holiday companies are currently out in force trying to tempt you to book your 2013 break with them – so use this to your advantage and snap up an early booking deal before they disappear.

Thomas Cook, for example, is offering 10% off 2013 holidays until January 31 while ebookers is running a “travel happier” sale with discounts off up to 50% off hotels, again until the end of January.

And, if you want to book your holiday now but haven’t saved up enough to pay for your break in full, look out for early booking deposit offers. Thomson is currently offering a low-deposit deal where you can pay from £75 per person or £200 per family to secure your holiday (with a deposit top-up due eight weeks after you book), while easyJet Holidays is offering a £50 deposit deal until the end of January (where the full amount is then due two weeks before you travel).

Check you’ve found a good deal before you book

But, before you rush to book a deal – however great it might seem – don’t forget to do a little research to make sure that the offer you are snapping up is the best one for you.

Run a search on a comparison site such as TravelSupermarket for holidays similar to the one you have found and you’ll be able to see deals from all of the big travel companies in one place. You can then book safe in the knowledge that the price you have found is competitive.

And don’t forget to compare the price of booking package holidays with booking separate flights and accommodation as well as looking at deals with different board types to make sure the option you’ve found is the most cost effective.

Start saving for your time away

As well as allowing you to cut the cost of your next holiday, booking in advance will help you to focus your mind on saving up for it. So, as soon as you’ve found and secured an early deal, set up a holiday fund to put a little into each month until you go away – sticking a picture of your destination to your fridge may remind you to save and make the money you are squirreling away seem worthwhile.

And when you are working out how much to put aside, don’t forget to factor in costs such as spending money while you are away, money for any extras such as car hire and, if you can afford it, a small amount for any extra items you need in your holiday wardrobe.

Top tip! Protect your holiday from day one

As soon as you’ve booked a holiday, even if you’re not travelling for months, buy your travel insurance policy.

This will give you the peace of mind that your holiday will be protected should anything go wrong in the run up to your break – if, for example, you have to cancel your holiday for circumstances out of your control in the run up to your travel such as illness or a family death.

But, as with all insurance policies, check what you are covered for before you buy – the cheapest policy might not be the best for you.

And, don’t forget to follow our three golden rules when booking any holiday:

  • If you can, book an ATOL-protected holiday so you’re covered should any element of your holiday fail. You can find out more about ATOL in our video What is ATOL protection?
  • If you can’t book an ATOL-protected holiday, take out a travel insurance policy with end supplier failure to cover you should a company you have booked with fail.

  • Pay for your holiday by credit card where possible to have protection under the Consumer Credit Act (for transactions over £100) or by Visa/MasterCard debit card for chargeback protection.

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.

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