Holidays & Travel

Expert tips for booking the best holiday in 2024

January is the peak period for planning getaways. Follow this expert advice to get the best deals.

Booking well ahead can bring the cost of your holiday down
Holiday booking (Alamy/PA) Booking well ahead can bring the cost of your holiday down (Alamy Stock Photo)

For many people, a new year means a new holiday allocation and the possibility of exciting plans for the 12 months ahead.

January is historically the busiest season for booking breaks, but with budgets of increasing concern it’s important to plan carefully.

To get the holiday you want at the right price, follow these expert tips.

The prefect cruise

cruise ship (Alamy Stock Photo)

“If you have your heart set on a specific ship, itinerary or cabin, then booking early will give you a higher chance to obtain lower prices,” says Tony Andrews, MD of Cruise.co.uk. “In fact, early bird prices can be up to 50% less.”

The type of cabin you choose can also have an impact on price. “If a sea view isn’t important, as the main purpose of your cabin is to sleep in it, choose an inside cabin or a cabin with an obstructed view, as this will take a considerable amount off the price,” he adds. The other option is to select a guaranteed cabin, which is allocated shortly prior to departure with the position and deck number chosen for you. Often these are available at a discounted rate.

Booking an older ship also helps keep costs down. “If you’re interested in a particular destination and aren’t too worried about the ship you sail on, consider an older vessel,” advises Andrews. “You’ll find its age is reflected in the price – although you can still take advantage of a comfortable sailing to your chosen holiday location.”

Pre-paying tips and booking a cruise package – with drinks, activities, transfers and flights – also works out more economical.

And being savvy with timings will also save you money. “Travellers will find better deals by avoiding peak times – such as summer, school holidays, Christmas and Easter – by sailing in the off-peak ‘shoulder season’ months of February, October and November,” says Andrews.

Booking a repositioning cruise is another option. “When a ship sails from one area to the next in preparation for the new season, these ‘re-positioning’ cruises are still open to book up. They will feature a majority of days on-board the ship rather than calling at different destinations but are available at a reduced cost.”



The perfect city break


“Staying a Sunday through to Thursday night instead of Saturday brings the price right down and offers the best possible chance for an upgrade,” recommend deals website Travelzoo.

Being flexible is also important. Often, it’s possible to find deals for similar destinations with no crowds. Consider choosing different dates and alternative airports, and avoid popular destinations.  “Consumers can find some great holiday bargains if they try something new, particularly if an operator has just added a new destination to their programme,” say the Travelzoo team.

And forget about the myth of last-minute bargains. It pays to be prepared and book early. Those who do can benefit from early-booking offers and incentives that are designed to pique interest. Many hotels bookable through Travelzoo are available on a voucher system. This enables consumers to secure their desired hotels at the best possible price.

The perfect villa break


Bom Jesus do Monte, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Braga, Minho, Portugal
Bom Jesus do Monte, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Braga, Minho, Portugal (Alamy/PA) Bom Jesus do Monte, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Braga, Minho, Portugal (Alamy Stock Photo)

“A great way to reduce the cost of a holiday is to double up with family friends or relatives – and add in some grandparents too – who can share costs and help with babysitting,” says Stephen Ellison, from villa with pool specialist Vintage Travel. “Although the big properties look expensive, guests find that by sharing the costs of the accommodation and self-catering cooking, it works out much better value.”

In terms of location, he advises choosing overlooked spots such as Costa Verde and Minho in Northern Portugal, where there are great beaches and towns to explore at a much better price point than the Algarve. Similarly, he says in Galicia, the villas cost less than other parts of Spain.

Another idea is to avoid renting four wheels by choosing somewhere that’s easily accessible by public transport. “With car hire world-wide at a premium, particularly in summer, we’ve noticed an increased interest in our ‘car not essential’ collection of properties,” says Ellison.

“Guests can taxi from the airport then once installed in their villa can easily walk to the local amenities, hire bikes or make the most of the public transport links. Others choose France or Northern Spain so they can drive direct from the UK.”