One of the single most important factors of how much you enjoy your holiday and how much you spend on that holiday is when you decide to go. This is probably the biggest decision that you have to make and in many ways is more important than choosing where to go and who to go with (don’t tell your wife I said that). It is true though, choosing the right time to go on a holiday can change the price, the crowds and the service you receive.
Clearly the biggest factor that is impacted by the date you choose is the price of flights. It is frustrating. If you want to get a train from Germany to France, the price remains the same. If you want to get a bus from Portugal to Spain, the price remains the same. Yet if you want to fly anywhere in the world the price fluctuates dramatically. Flight economics is incredibly interesting and is based on filling every available seat. Planes are expensive to put in the air and if companies charged a standard price across the board they would be running many flights at a loss (unless every flight was full). Hold you sympathy though, they are still making a killing.
With a little bit of preparation and savvy, you can beat the airlines. Many online websites now allow you to look at flight prices throughout the year and will highlight the cheaper dates to travel. This makes it easier to work out when to go. Flying off-season can save you up to 50% on ticket prices and unless you need to go somewhere for a special occasion (I’m looking at you Christmas, you expensive damnation) it is a no brainer.
The other massive factor is hotel prices. Hotel prices are even more dynamic than flights and can alter by 100% based on demand. The reason is that hotel prices also want to fill every room at an increasing price but they are willing to let some go empty. This means that as supply decreases prices will only go up. You won’t usually get a last-minute sale on hotels unless they are empty. Booking a hotel during off-season though often does mean reduced prices.
The best thing about booking during the off-season is the lack of crowds. School holidays are the worst part of the year as if you go anywhere there are droves of children swarming everything. It is the one time of year you should just rule out traveling. You must be careful though.
There is a reason that off-season is quiet and you need to make sure your planning does not backfire on you. If you are traveling somewhere that relies on the weather, check detailed weather reports as you may be getting the bargain of a lifetime or a week of hell. I once trekked to Everest Base Camp and chose to go in the quiet season, Christmas and New Year (surprising, I know). It is the coldest time of year to do the trek and many people avoid it for that reason. However there was no rain, the views were epic, and there were none of the busy crowds that are usually reported. All I had to do was wear an extra pair of socks at night. That was worth it.
However many businesses simply aren’t open during offseason. You need to make sure you can actually have the holiday you are planning. Some tourist sites are closed and many restaurants and bars will run limited hours. This means it may be good to choose a time of year that is not peak season but that is not dead season either.
By doing a little bit of research and planning ahead you can save a lot of money on your holiday. With those savings, you can turn your short break away into an incredible once in a lifetime adventure.