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The ultimate guide to book a cheap 2017 holiday

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The post-Christmas blues mean travel sites see a huge spike in holiday bookings made at the beginning of the year. Here are the top tips to bag a bargain break.

January tends to be the busiest month for booking holidays in the coming year as Brits look to escape the cold weather, they want to shake off the post-Christmas blues and they have a renewed holiday allowance.

Planning a trip away can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive but we reveal some of the industry’s best tips to ensure you bag a bargain and to make sure your holiday’s memorable for the right reasons.

When to book

It’s the age old question people have been trying to answer for years: when’s the best time to book my holiday?

The exact time you should book your holiday will ultimately vary depending on the destination.

Travel search site Momondo found people who book their flight 56 days in advance get the cheapest tickets, saving an average of 28%.

Neil James Cartwright, country manager for the UK at Momondo, says tickets are generally most expensive on the day of the departure and it’s cheaper to fly out on a Tuesday, while Saturday is routinely the most expensive day of the week.

He adds that evening departures between the hours of 6pm and 12am typically offer the cheapest fares and it’s more expensive to fly in the morning and midday to 3pm.

The experts at Expedia say you should buy airplane tickets 21 days or more in advance to get the best price, especially for trips within Europe and America. It says that holidaymakers may be able to bag discounts of as much as 30% by booking three weeks in advance of the departure date.

Search engine Kayak has analysed millions of searches to find the best time to book destinations and it believes consumers could potentially save up to 80% by booking airfares at the right time.

Booking two to four months in advance is best for long haul flights, with savings of nearly half possible to possible destinations such as Florida and LA.

One or two months in advance is the best time to book mid-haul flights and it found the biggest savings can be made when flying to the popular destination of Faro in Portugal, where flights are 80% cheaper when booked one month in advance compared with the worst time to book.

Flights to Mallorca can be 75% cheaper when booked two months in advance compared with the worst time, while flights to Tenerife and Rome are 66% and 61% cheaper respectively when booked one month in advance.

However, more forward planning is required for certain destinations to get the best deals. When it comes to the increasingly popular destination of Reykjavik for example, five months in advance is the best time to book, which offers savings of up to 61% with an average price of £69.

It adds that to get the best savings on flights to the most popular long-haul destinations, the best deals can also be found by waiting until nearer to the departure date.

Book flight and hotel together or separately?

Expedia says one critical, but often overlooked, method to drive savings is for travellers to simultaneously book their flight, hotel and/or rental car on an online travel agency.

These ‘flight+hotel’ bookings can be offered at a steep discount, with average savings on Expedia of £140.

Head to an alternative neighbourhood on your city break

By checking out the alternative areas of a city you can save even more on your hotel, says Expedia. For example, staying in the Financial District or Battery Park City when travelling to New York can offer savings, but still offers the chance to stay in two spots that are fast becoming the city’s new must-visit areas.

Get rewarded for your loyalty

To save even more, it’s worth checking whether you can collect any frequent flyer miles, cashback, points on credit cards or Nectar points.

A Saturday night stay can make it cheaper

Expedia says that after evaluating terabytes of data regarding the impact of including a Saturday night stay on average ticket prices, most tickets including a Saturday stay offer the lowest prices and best deals. In Central Europe, average ticket prices for itineraries that include Saturdays can be as much as 74% less and 47% less for flights within the UK and Ireland.

Hot destinations for 2017

Myanmar (formerly Burma): Momondo says tourism to Myanmar, or Burma, has been slowly building since it opened its doors for tourism in 1992. Curious travellers are increasingly making their way to this sprawling Southeast Asian country, which reportedly has seen a nearly 500% increase of international visitors from 2010 to 2015.

Sri Lanka: Another destination to watch this year is Sri Lanka, according to Momondo, as it predicts it will grow in popularity. Sri Lanka is covered in lush rainforests, rising mountains and vast plains and is just off the coast of neighbouring India.

Mexico City: Mexico City is ‘hot’ according to Expedia. Overall market growth in Mexico City for 2016 hovered around 11%, and was expected to continue to grow into 2017. Experts predict Mexico City will be a 2017 destination to watch.

Dubai: This middle eastern country’s popularity continues to grow and Expedia says Dubai nearly experienced double-digit growth in capacity last year, enjoying another 6% increase this year.

Cuba, Havana: Out of 500 of the top destinations, Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, has shown the greatest percentage change (53%) in capacity from 2015 to 2016, Expedia figures show, which means more airlines are flying more planes here.

Madrid: Kayak says this is the ultimate budget trip with the average cost of flights at £66.

Marrakech: “Perennially-popular” Marrackech tops the Kayak list as the cheapest airfare internationally at £93 on average.

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