Despite recession, people want to abandon staycations and get away to the sun.
Finding the elusive great travel deal is getting harder all the time with airlines and tour operators carefully controlling capacity off this island. The days of holidays at rock bottom prices being dumped on the market are gone.
Instead we have to be flexible, think fast and book rapidly when a good deal fare or holiday appears. Accommodation is easier to book with dozens of hotel websites and a lot of additional self-catering units in the market.
Hotels.com has a flash sale this weekend the code is FLASH1020 and there are discounted hotel rooms until December 31.
In Spain, our favourite destination, flights on the principle routes of Malaga, Alicante and Murcia are more expensive than ever. Prices are returning to pre-2007 rates. Other routes to Spain are more competitive. The Barcelona area has flights to the main airport, El Prat and to Gerona and Reus. All of these routes will give you easy access to the coast and the resorts of Costa Brava and Costa Dorada.
Take advantage of the June Bank Holiday of have a Barcelona citybreak from €184pps with Gohop.ie. They also have city breaks to Amsterdam from €225pps.
Accommodation this year in Spain is expected to cost less than previous years due to the domestic holiday market suffering from the recession and so with cheaper accommodation, packages can be good value. I have seen a week in the Costa Del Sol in July with lowcostholidays.ie for €430pps.
Flights to Santander will get you into the more reasonable provinces of Cantabria and Asturias on the Atlantic coast. The lovely historic city of Santiago de Compostela is better value in high summer when it is too hot for Camino walkers.
In the Canaries clickandgo.com have deals for July and August with Lanzarote from €369pps and half board from €530pps from Dublin and Cork.
Less obvious places in Europe
Look at the less obvious places for cheaper fares, in France, Carcassonne, Marseille, Nantes, Rodez and La Rochelle are well priced, under €200. For Portugal, the city of Porto is lovely and from Lisbon there is easy access to the seaside resorts of Cascais, Estorial and Sintra.
In Italy there are three airports around Milan and a good train service to take you into the lakeside resorts around Lake Garda and Lake Como. |Or travel with the Travel Department and have a week half board on Lake Garda and visit Venice and Verona for €799 for a week traveldepartment.ie
Flights to the islands of Sardinia and Sicily are also quite well priced at present. If you live within easy access to Belfast or Derry airports, some holidays are cheaper. Check late deals on thomson.co.uk, thomascook.co.uk and jet2.com that are having a sale this week on June fares.
Outside the Euro Zone
Think outside the Euro zone places like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Bulgaria and Turkey where you get better value for Euros. Turkey will be good value again this year with value for money exchange rates and plenty of competition between the main tour operators and newer entrant Wings Abroad who have packages from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the turquoise coast of Turkey, price in July are from €559.
Online Travel Agents
Online travel agents are the ideal way to find a good deal if you are flexible on dates. Companies like clickandgo.com,lowcostholidays.ie, steintravel.ie, ebookers.com, flexibletrips.ie lastminute.ie, latedeals.ie, travelcheaper.ie, aerlinguspackages.com and travelnet.ie offer a wide range of accommodation from two star to luxury all inclusive.
Look at the world map
Using geography, you can also find that if you take chance on the weather, prices can be considerably cheaper. The rainy season begins in the Caribbean in June and prices drop. Tropicalsky has a week in Barbados in the new SoCo four star hotel from €1119 pps.
In the tropical zones like Thailand the rainy season is July- October, and while downpours do happen they are usually short and sharp and the weather is still warm. You can get a week in Thailand during our summer for around €1,000pps, seetrailfinders.ie and gohop.ie.
In the drier regions of the Middle East the temperature climbs towards 45 degrees, but you could be staying in a luxurious five-star resort for a fraction of the usual price, see what Tropicalsky.ie has on offer in Dubai, some deals include meals. It is also Ramadan from July 9 – August 7 and this does have an effect on hotel bookings. Travelmood.ie has a week in the Sheraton 5* in Abu Dhabi in August for €996pps
The best value to the United States this year will be after September, most holidays for the summer are booked and though we have a lot of additional US flights this summer, the prices have not come down. Travelling with a specialist tour operator such as touramerica.ie, flydriveusa.ie andamericanholdiays.ie will provide better value.
Though is you consider going backwards to go forward, Air France has great deals in their sale running until June 4, New York and Boston, in June under €600, and July/August under €700 and September under €500 so if you have time you can save hundreds.
Camping is much nicer in the sun. Camping Ireland has discounts with campsites all over Europe with the Camping Key Europe card and is available for €16 from campingkeyeurope.com. check also UK website of blisscamping.co.uk for a week in the El Delfin, well known to Irish people on Costa Brava, €351 for a week for four, at the end of June.
Book for September now
The summer schedule on most carriers will operate until mid to end October and there are holidays with falconholidays.ie ,thomascook.ie, panaoramaholidyas.ie from under €400 for September and with online travel agents for under €300. But book now. You can always pay a deposit. See also aerlinguspackages.com for some great deals.
Catch the holiday deals every week in The Irish Times Magazine on Saturday.