Should you book your holiday early or at the last minute? With Brexit still up in the air, you may find yourself scratching your head about when to book this year’s trip, let alone your 2020 holidays, but if you’re looking for terrific deals, plenty of choice and great perks, you’ll want to plan well ahead.
While last-minute holidays have their advantages, such as the excitement of spontaneity if you’re not fussed about where to go or stay, plus the chance to grab a late deal and save money on your travels, there are many reasons to book your 2020 holiday now.
We spoke to top travel industry experts to hear their predictions for the year ahead and why families, cruisers and adventure travellers in particular can save money and avoid that last-minute stress by being an early bird.
In fact, ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association, recently found that one in four British people book their escapes in advance just to give themselves something to look forward to, with plenty of time to daydream about the new places they’ll discover, delicious local food they’ll sample and that all-important time to relax.
Book early to grab a bargain
Holiday bookings made during the winter sales season allow you to grab an excellent early travel deal, offering the potential to save hundr of pounds. PO Cruises, TUI, Inghams and Club Med are offering big savings on 2020 holidays, with everything from ski breaks to beach holidays available for less. Travellers thinking about taking a trip during peak times, such as the school holidays or New Year’s, will definitely want to book as early as possible to take advantage of the most affordable flights and hotels.
Don’t miss out on once in a lifetime experiences
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the cherry blossom in Japan, hiking Peru’s Inca Trail or getting up close to mountain gorillas on a wildlife safari in Rwanda (only eight permits per gorilla family are issued per day), you need to plan far ahead to avoid missing out as travelling for an event or a highly sought-after experience often means there is a smaller number of tourist spaces to limit our impact on the environment or an animals’ habitat, as well as periods like spring in Japan (cherry blossom) and August in Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Tanzania’s Serengeti when the Great Wildebeest Migration takes place.
Sarah Ahern, Product Manager at Exodus Travels, explains: “It’s set to be a busy few years in Japan. This year, the country hosts the Rugby World Cup, closely followed by the Summer Olympics in 2020 and visitor numbers are looking to soar in 2019 and into 2020.” If you’ve been dreaming of finally taking that trip to Japan, there’s no better time to book it.
Bag a free child place
For families travelling with children, it’s worth checking out the offers from tour operators giving free child places on 2020 holidays as this could save you hundr. There is usually a limited number of free child places available so it pays to get in quick before they run out. TUI and First Choice have a wide selection of early bird holidays with kids go free offers.
Make the most of all the choice
Booking early means that you have more options when it comes to destinations, the dates you want to travel and the type of accommodation that’s right for you. With villa rentals, for instance, James Villas Holidays’ Commercial Director Dave Woollcott, says: “It may seem like next year is a million miles away but villas with pools, views and al-fresco dining need to be booked early, especially if you want to secure the place that best suits you and your travelling party.
In Europe, holidays to Italy are extremely popular and particularly in the summer, when hotels along the Amalfi Coast are snapped up quickly. By thinking ahead, you’ll get your pick of the crop and have plenty of time to peruse that Amalfi guide book before you depart on your dream holiday.
Take advantage of amazing extras
There are incredible incentives for early birds, giving you that extra something to look forward to when you book your holiday in advance. For instance, a holiday staying at Sweden’s Icehotel next winter booked now affords you the added treat of a free flight upgrade simply for getting organised sooner.
ABTA says that a package holiday is the answer for straightforward booking, great value for money and the best level of protection when booking your 2020 holiday. As you are entitled to a refund or to be brought home should the travel company organising your package holiday go out of business, while also being protected if the holiday isn’t provided as required, there’s less risk involved with booking a package holiday early.
Your package holiday can come in many different forms and be sold in different ways – from a ‘ready-made’ package, where the different travel services are put together for you by the travel company and offered at a single price, to tailormade trips, where you select different services from a range offered before paying for them together.
Cruise your way to fantastic perks
If you want the widest choice of cruise holidays and at a good price, with added perks, the chance to bag the restaurant times that suit you and the opportunity to pay in instalments over a longer period of time, you’ll want to book your 2020 cruise holiday now. PO, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Marella and Royal Caribbean are some of the top cruise lines offering great deals on early bookings for 2020 cruises.
Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of cruising review website Cruise Critic, advises that certain types of cruises get booked up very quickly from the moment an itinerary is announced. These include small ship sailings (especially expedition cruises), themed cruises such as specialised music, food, wine and seasonal Christmas cruises, plus luxury cruises and new ship itineraries.
He says: “As well as offering you money off your trip, cruise lines often offer early bookers a range of perks like free flights, a complimentary upgrade and free onboard credit.
“It’s also good to get in early since prices for popular sailings can rise as cabins get booked up. Apart from getting a good deal, booking now for a cruise holiday in 2020 is certainly advisable if you have a particular cruise ship or cruise itinerary in mind, and want to bag the best suites and cabins.”
ABTA says you should take out your travel insurance straight away as this will cover you from the moment you book. That means if you have to cancel your holiday due to illness or the loss of your job, for example, then you should be able to get your money back through your insurance.
Check out our pick of the dream trips to book now for 2020…
Witness cherry blossom season in Japan
Spring is arguably the best time of year to visit Japan when you can see the world-famous sakura (cherry blossom) in all its glory. See it for yourself on a once in a lifetime 14-day holiday from £3,249 per person
Sleep in the world’s most unusual hotel
For an experience like no other, head north to Swedish Lapland where the iconic Icehotel awaits. Here you can spend the night in your own Iceroom and enjoy an array of winter activities during a four-night short break from £1,299 per person
Hike Peru’s Inca Trail in comfort
This dream destination features on many a bucket list and offers unforgettable adventures such as early morning tours of Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive and exploring ancient Inca capital Cuzco from £2,399 per person for 11 nights
See the Aurora from the northernmost point of Europe
If you’ve always dreamed of viewing the Northern Lights, Norway is the place to do it and a trip to North Cape, the northernmost point of mainland Europe provides an experience you’ll never forget from £1,999 per person for 12 days