By this time of year, the kids are back in school, summer has become a distant memory and Canadians across the country start bracing themselves for the cold weather which has started to set in. It’s also time to start planning your winter getaway particularly if your intentions include sunshine and a sandy beach. Here are some things to keep in mind before you book your upcoming winter holiday:
Save Money by Knowing the Difference Between Peak Season & High Season
HIGH season is December through March while PEAK season includes the school holidays around Christmas, New Year’s & Spring break (usually the middle two weeks in March).
If you have flexibility, the best deals are usually found in what’s called the “shoulder” season—late November to mid December, early to mid January and late March to early April. The weather is still good but there is far less demand during those periods which translates into much lower pricing. By mid April the charter planes get shifted to Europe so while space in the resorts is good, there are less seats available which can keep the flight costs high.
Research Properties You’re Interested in
Different properties cater to different groups such as adult only, family friendly, singles, etc. Talk to your Flight Centre travel consultant to make sure you’re getting the place you expect. Many of the brochures look the same in terms of beaches and amenities so it helps tremendously to have firsthand knowledge of the actual resort including whether the property has been recently renovated, how the service is, its proximity to the airport, etc.
There is no international standard for hotel star ratings. As a result, don’t expect a 3 or 4 star property in Canada to necessarily translate to that in Mexico or the Caribbean. We recommend booking at least one star higher than you think you should so that you’re not disappointed.
Many people don’t realize that Hawaii does not have any all-inclusive properties. But the strong Canadian dollar combined with reasonably priced flights from Vancouver, Calgary & Bellingham, Washington, makes this destination more affordable than ever.
Package Deals vs. Booking Flights & Hotel Separately
Generally speaking your best bet for saving money is to book a package with the flights included, particularly if you’re going to an all-inclusive. Charter flights are always less expensive than scheduled airlines, and all-inclusive packages often include airport transfers which can be costly if you have to pay those separately upon arrival (sometimes up to $100 each way). Talk to your Flight Centre Travel Consultant who can provide a cost comparison.
Use Your Proximity
Depending on which part of the country you’re in can also have an effect on both price and time. For example, Canadians in the West are often getting better value travelling to the pacific side of Mexico (Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun) where there are direct and relatively short flights and not much of a time difference. In the East, the same can be said for focusing on the Caribbean side of Mexico and surrounding Caribbean countries. The direct flights and shorter distance is particularly important if you only have a week off so that you don’t lose 2 entire days travelling to and from the destination.
Booking Early vs. Waiting Last Minute
Now is definitely the best time to be booking your winter holiday if you want the best deal. While many people still believe they’ll get a great last minute bargain, demand to popular all-inclusive destinations continues to grow and the best destinations sell out quickly. Taking advantage of Early Booking Bonuses (EBBs) can mean saving hundreds of dollars on certain packages. It also gives you piece of mind knowing your vacation is secure during the upcoming peak season. Many suppliers also have a Price Drop Protection which is typically valid up to 21 days prior to departure in which you get a refund or future travel credit if the price drops.
Want to get started on planning your next beach getaway? Contact one of our Flight Centre Travel Consultants at 1-877-967-5302 or browse through our vacation deals online. Good luck and Happy Travels!