When Should You Book to Get the Best Price on Your Family Holiday?

If  like me you have children or work in a school, you’ll be well accustomed to the issue of booking trips outside of term time. You know it’s going to cost you extra, but what can you do to secure a good deal? Well, it depends on where you’d like to go, and what you’d like from your holiday. Whether you’re looking for a Portugal Property or Hawaiian hotel, I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve for you and yours…

Tip one: book later

If you’re looking for a package deal for your family, one of the best ways to do it is to book it as late as you possibly can! The reason is simple: tour operators buy up plane seats and hotel rooms a long way in advance. Then they need to sell them to you. If they don’t fill seats or book up the rooms, they lose money. Therefore, the later you leave it, the cheaper they’ll be prepared to offer your family plane tickets and hotel rooms.  

However, you’ll need to be flexible about your dates and destinations, so if you have specific requirements (such as a large numbers of passengers, or a hankering for a particular hotel) be careful. Your dream holiday may not be available on a last minute basis!

Best to book: 8 - 10 weeks before departure, or later if you’re more flexible. 

Tip Two: or book early

Very early. If you’re not comfortable with leaving it late, you can still bag a bargain for your family. The only caveat is that you’ll need to do it around nine months in advance (or even sooner) to win an early booking discount.  I've been known to stalk travel agents to find out when is the earliest I can book up and have booked up 16 months in advance before. I like doing this as it helps to spread the cost. 

The best thing about booking early is that you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, and can even take advantage of great early booking deals like 'buy-one-get-one-free' weeks (we used a buy one get one free option when we visited Sanguli a few years ago).

Just bear in mind that booking like this requires a bit of forward planning and an ability to commit up to a year in advance of your holiday. We recommend this option if you’re booking for large or extended families going on holiday together.

Best to book: 9-12 months before departure, or as soon as the flights become available.

Tip three: the last two weeks of the school holidays are cheapest

If there’s no way to avoid going away during the school holidays (or you don't want to risk taking your children out of school), I recommend saving your trip until the end of the kids’ time off. Prices tend to drop rapidly at the end of August into early September because most people like to go earlier (which will make sense if you’ve ever found yourself panic-buying school uniform in the first week of September). But, if you can get the kids organised and ready to return to school before you fly out, you could make the most of cheaper deals by spending the last week of the school holidays beside the pool. 

Best to book: last minute probably works best in this instance, but it’s worth negotiating with travel agents whatever the case.

When do you tend to book your holiday to get the best price? I'd love to hear your experiences (especially if you have bagged an amazing deal). 



  1. As a travel agent myself I would recommend booking earlier especially if you have children especially during summer school holidays. The reason for this is that free child places will be available (or child for £1) and you will get a selection of destinations. During the summer last minute all that really comes up is Turkey / Tunisia (if on sale) Egypt (if on sale) and bulgaria. Spread the cost out over the year. If booking a long haul flight (Australia, USA, Dubai) that will be using a scheduled airline do this as soon as the prices come out as that will be the cheapest price. Sometimes also if your child is younger, paying the school fine works in your favour & will save you bundles.

  2. We've booked early for our last fee summer holidays to get free child places, we book late for easter or autumn to get a bargain

    A great idea I discovered today is Thomas Cook now take monthly direct debit to pay for advance holidays which I think is ace

    1. Oh yes I noticed that when I was pricing hold for 2017. Fab idea. Suddenly £4k on a holiday doesn't seem so bad when you spread it out and pay by DD.........


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