Where to look for a bargain December holiday break.
It’s no secret that Christmas is the hottest time of year for people to travel. It’s also no secret that it’s one of the most expensive times to travel. The cheapest tickets often get snapped up early and sales tend not to include Christmas holiday periods – but don’t be discouraged!
With the kids on holidays and a four-day weekend off from work (24–27 December 2016) you shouldn’t let the last-minute rush stand between you and your holiday. There are still ways to have a cheap Christmas getaway. Here’s how:
1. Fly on Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Day
Flights during the week before Christmas Day tend to be the most expensive for the month as everyone who’s searching for a Christmas getaway will want to be at their destination on the 25th. If you’re not that picky, fly ON Christmas Day. If you're travelling somewhere that's only an hour or two away, you may still be able to get to your celebrations before lunch. It may not be the best thing celebration-wise but it could save you hundreds.
Just be wary of transport to your hotel when you arrive as some cities shut down or limit public transport on Christmas Day (e.g. London) or charge a public holiday surcharge.
2. Fly back mid-January
Those people flying out before Christmas Day will most likely be flying back just after New Year’s. So try to avoid flights in the week following New Year’s Day to cash in on the cheaper fares that follow.
3. Holiday in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas
Where there will be Christmas celebrations, tourists will flock, so choose places that don’t really celebrate such as China, Cambodia, Japan and Morocco and you might find less of a fluctuation in airfares compared to other destinations.
4. Pick destinations that are generally more affordable
Shave costs by choosing destinations that are either closer to home or are more affordable. While places like Southeast Asia are cheap anytime and will be a bit more expensive during the holidays, prices won't bloat as much as big cities or pricier destinations.
5. Keep it local
Don’t rule out short flights within your own country for a Christmas break. It’s still a break after all and you won’t have to worry about passports, visas and currency exchanges to boot. At the time of writing fares are still quite desirable with Jetstar charging $69pp one-way (not including additional fees like checked baggage) from Sydney to Melbourne on Christmas Day.
6. Ditch the flight altogether and take a road trip
If you’re keeping it local, why not make it a road trip instead? Big families can benefit from this most as you’ll only have to pay a set price for the car hire instead of purchasing separate seats for each member of the brood on the plane.
According to DriveNow, hiring a Nissan Micra from Sydney CBD for 24 December 2016 to 2 January 2017 (drive out Saturday morning night, drive back in on New Year’s Day public holiday and only take three days off work) starts at $711.04.
7. Once you arrive, don't stay in hotels
We don’t have to tell you twice that booking through a short term or vacation rental service like Airbnb or Roomorama can save you heaps. Christmas is no exception. Prices are set by the renters and accommodation can vary from anything from a room in an apartment to a whole house..
8. Camp it
Bring down the holiday splurge a little more by opting to go camp instead of booking accommodation. Family tents can start for less than $300 and can be reused on your next trip. Sites are much cheaper than hotels or airbnb-style accommodation, and are sometimes even free if you're willing to forfeit facilities.
9. Opt for a package
Bundled packages which include flights, accommodation and sometimes activities can be a godsend during the peak period. To be fair, prices per package do go up according to the season but with everything sorted for you it’s a time saver – especially for the budget savvy of us who have to research and compare every different option.
10. Fly without extras
If you're not having any luck with the price of your actual flight, consider forgoing extras like checked baggage, in-flight meals and drinks. We often find on budget airlines these perks can significantly increase the price of your flight - sometimes even doubling it. It may not seem like much, but if you're travelling with a family of four, these extras can easily add up to an extra night's hotel stay. Think of it as bonus vacation.
Note: All prices mentioned below are accurate at the time of writing (November 2016) and are subject to change.