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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

Is booking your trip in January really the best idea?

The first Saturday of the year is called “sunshine Saturday” in the travel industry due to the volume of people booking holidays

Booking in advance not only gets you the best deal, but also provides the endorphin rush of pre-trip happiness Getty
Booking in advance not only gets you the best deal, but also provides the endorphin rush of pre-trip happiness Getty

January has traditionally been a bumper month for travel bookings. With the end-of-year festivities officially over, people are looking to the coming 12 months with thoughts of ­escaping to foreign lands. In fact, the first Saturday of the year is called “sunshine Saturday” in the travel industry due to the volume of people booking holidays. But is booking your trip in January really the best idea?

Should I plan ahead?

It turns out that it really all depends on what you’re looking for. As a general rule, booking as far in advance as possible is always a good idea, but if you’re not fussy about where you’re going and don’t have to travel with children in tow, then holding off for last-minute deals could be a better option.

There’s a plethora of information out there about the best day and even time to book a holiday, and where to find the most attractive deals. This data is very much trend-based, so it pays to do your own research. Data compiled by Skyscanner claims that Saturdays are the cheapest day to book travel for ­UAE travellers. You should avoid Wednesday bookings, which is when prices tend to be the most expensive. The research also suggests that travellers could save two per cent, on average, on their flights by booking on a Saturday rather than on a Wednesday

No matter where you’re based, booking early is your best bet when it comes to getting a psychological boost. A study published in the Journal Applied Research Quality of Life found that planning a trip can make you happier than actually heading off on holiday. That’s because people who book in advance get to enjoy the endorphin rush of pre-trip happiness.

“The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your ­happiness from anticipating the holiday trip,” said Jeroen Nawijn, the study’s lead author. And the earlier you book, the more time you have to enjoy that anticipation high.

When to go?

According to Divya Vijayan from independent travel company Travel Counsellors, if you don’t have kids, then always travel off-peak. Not only do you spend a lot less than you would in busy periods, but operators have that extra breathing space to add little extras to itineraries.

If you’re thinking of planning travel to coincide with public holidays, then getting in early is definitely the best choice, according to Travel Counsellors’s Jamie MacNeilage. “We see so many people in the UAE waiting to hear about public holidays and then trying to book last-minute trips. This means that tickets get snapped up, occupancy at hotels shoots up and, as a result, the prices you’ll pay are much higher,” he explains. Even if you’re not sure exactly when public holidays will fall, if you have annual leave booked for a date that is later deemed a holiday, many companies will give you that day back in lieu.

Last week, the UAE Ministry of Education confirmed dates for the coming spring break, tweeting that ­students in schools that follow the authority’s curriculum will be off from March 31 to April 11 – so if you haven’t already, it might be time to book your first trip of the year.

January Sales

Emirates is currently offering return fares to destinations in the Middle East starting at Dh795, as part of its New Year promotion. With discounted offers on a total of 158 destinations worldwide until January 22, you’ve still got time to bag a bargain.

Etihad AirwaysEpic Global Sale is also up and running, offering economy fares with discounts of up to 35 per cent. Add the Spanish capital to your travel list for Dh2,753 return, or explore Lagos from Dh1,873. The sale ends January 24.

Meanwhile, British Airwaysannual sale runs until January 22 with discounts on multiple routes, including flights from the UAE to London for just Dh2,065. Keep an eye on the social media channels and websites of your preferred airlines to be the first to find out about new offers.

Spend time researching and you could secure the best prices at some of the world's best hotels hotels like The Muraka, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Courtesy Justin Nicholas
Spend time researching and you could secure the best prices at some of the world's best hotels hotels like The Muraka, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Courtesy Justin Nicholas

Bedding down

When it comes to hotel options, shop strategically. If you’ve got your eye on a particular spot, find the lowest rate and book using one of the free cancellation options offered on many sites. Then, add it to your bookmarks and keep tabs on it. Not only will you have locked in an advanced booking rate, you’ll also give yourself the option of taking advantage of offers, should they arise closer to your travel date.

According to Joe Chung, travel hacker and blogger at As the Joe Flies, this can result in some noteworthy savings. “Sometimes prices will drop by just $10 or $20 [Dh36.7 to Dh73.4] a night, but I once had a hotel booked for $250 a night, then it dropped to $160 a night,” he says.

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Updated: January 16, 2019 09:36 AM

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