Are you keen to take advantage of cheap flights, tours and packages for your upcoming vacation? A small amount of preparation will enable you to also take advantage of the best hot travel deals.
Understand the Travel Deal Cycle
The travel industry works to defined travel deal cycles, so by learning about these cycles you can give yourself the best chance to book a hot deal.
Sign up to a variety of travel services which offer deals, including travel agents, airlines, tour operators and group buying services. Follow the cheap travel deals over a period of time to get an idea of what is regularly offered and determine which offers are of interest.
Early Bird Travel Deals
Airfares can be booked from 13 months prior to the actual flight. If you intend to use loyalty program points for international flights then 13 months prior to your planned departure date is an excellent time to book to get the flights you want. Many airlines, tour and package operators and motorhome providers also offer early bird booking deals for customers who are prepared to book early, often 9 – 12 months prior to travelling.
If you have no choice other than to travel in a peak travel period then early bird deals may be your only option to get the best deal for your trip.
Six Month Travel Deals
A second round of travel deals are usually offered around the six month to go timeframe. These deals will still be cheaper than full price, and depending on how the bookings are going for that time period there can be some excellent deals on offer.
International Last Minute Travel Deals
Last minute deals for international travel and package deals will usually be offered when there are three months until the date of departure. Many excellent deals can be on offer as the airline, tour and package operators scramble to fill empty seats on airplanes and tours. If you have flexibility with leave and money then the international last minute deals usually represent excellent value.
Local Last Minute Travel Deals
Last minute deals for local travel, package and group buying deals can be offered one week to one month ahead of the travel dates. If you have flexibility with leave and money then you can get some excellent short break options.
Another excellent last minute deal is to relocate a motorhome or hire car. Most standby motorhome and hire car relocation options are offered from one month prior to the relocation date. If you can book a cheap airfare to match with the relocation timeframes then you can get a very inexpensive driving holiday.
Absolute Last Minute
You would think that waiting until the absolute last minute should get you the best deal. This is untrue – airlines have to book in their catering requirements up to one week ahead and from one month prior will also finalise shift rosters for pilots and aircraft route allocation. As a result airlines are usually unwilling to book additional cheap passengers in the final week before travel. Usually you will pay a premium price to book an airfare at the airport or on the day or two prior to departure.
Hotels can offer excellent deals on the day but if you are desperate to find accommodation then you will often take the first reasonable option offered which may be more expensive than an earlier deal may have offered.
Be Flexible and Avoid Peak Vacation Time Periods
A key element of understanding the travel deal booking cycle is to realise that cheap travel deals are only offered when the airline, tour operator or hotel is not already full. Therefore in peak booking periods there will be few deals on offer.
If you have school aged children and only take leave during school holidays then your options to get a great travel deal will be limited. If you can take your children out of school during the school term then you will be able to get a significantly cheaper vacation.
Research your planned destinations to identify the local peak holiday periods. Also research whether there are any major events planned which would be worth avoiding.
If you want to get the best deal then you should be flexible and plan to travel in off peak periods.
Be ready to book when a great deal is on offer. This means saving up your money in advance so you know your trip budget. Have the money readily accessible so you can pay in full when you book your deal.
Review your leave options with your employer and get agreement in principle with your management. If you are self-employed decide which time periods would work best for you to be absent.
Ensure you have your passport ready with at least six months validity remaining from your intended date of travel.
Time to Book Your Vacation
Once you have completed your preparation it is then time to wait for the right travel deal to be offered. When the deal comes you can book with confidence and you will be the one with bragging rights!!