It’s that time of the year again when you start getting increased number of out-of-office emails. Your Facebook feed is full of check-ins at airports and exotic destinations. Even if you had decided earlier that you won’t vacation during this time of the year, the urge kicks in and your feet start getting itchier than ever.
Blame it all on the season! There’s a whiff of childhood travel memories in the air, urging you to pack your bags and create new ones. But then…clouds of doubt takeover. Is travelling during the peak holiday season a wise idea? Is it possible to travel within a limited budget during December-January?
The answer to both the questions, as you probably would know, is yes – provided you plan well. Blue Sky Dreamers asks industry experts to share some travel hacks for travelling during the peak holiday season to not just save costs but also to travel well and have a fabulous experience even in a crowded destination.
Booking in Advance
The key to planning a good tip within limited budget is, of course, booking in advance. “Planning in advance can yield to fantastic savings, leaving it to the last minute costs up 25% more than the average fare,” informs Reshmi Roy, Growth Manager, Skyscanner India.
Agrees Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings: “Planning in advance helps you cut cost. Even hotels offer discounts to those booking 60 to 90 days in advance.” Having said that, remember it is a myth that booking way in advance will guarantee you the lowest rates, except when airlines offer promotional fares.
Consider Group Travel
Travelling in a large group or opting for group tours instead of customized trips – both can help you reduce costs. There are different kinds of group tours offered: some are all-inclusive including sightseeing, shows, and all meals while others are basic tours excluding lunch & dinner and some attractions. Check with your travel agent and negotiate for the best tour according to your travel preference and budget.
Hindustan Times lists useful tips to keep in mind before booking a group tour.
Make Use of Travel Planning Tools
There are numerous apps and websites offering excellent tools to plan your travel well. If you know how to use them effectively, you can save big bucks. “Sign up for newsletters to watch out for all the best deals,” suggests Reshmi.
From my personal experience, I’d suggest downloading the Skyscanner App to get the best flight deals. Using tools such as Skyscanner’s price alerts notifies you when the price of your desired flight changes.
“December – January is a popular period to take holidays and this New Year we have witnessed interest in countries across continents with an interesting mix of the Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East. New Zealand saw a growth of 52% in travel searches from last year and Australia was the second most searched destination and recorded an increase of 47%. Closer home, Malaysia saw a rise of 28% in travel searches and United Kingdom, recording a 15% surge in searches since 2015.” – Skyscanner
For hotel bookings, I prefer using GoIbibo and Trivago. Both let you compare hotel room prices and offer good deals.
Check for offers & deals
With the segment becoming increasingly competitive, consumers have the advantage of getting attractive packages, deals and offers. Now usually the companies do not offer great discounts during the peak season but they do not shy away from offering some goodies.
For instance, Cox & Kings is currently offering discounts, cash backs, free goodies and domestic holiday free on various domestic and international trips. “We have also introduced budget-friendly EMI schemes to facilitate flexible payment. The customer can seek a pre-approved loan offered by Bajaj Finserv to travel with a minimum down payment. For a holiday for the next year, you can take the benefit of Cox & Kings’ Save Now Travel Later scheme, wherein you can open a Recurring Deposit account with RBL Bank and save for the next 12 months. The unique saving programme gets travellers the 13th installment absolutely free. In addition, the holidays can be booked at today’s price,” informs Karan Anand.
Also look for travel coupons and cash back offers by various portals. It will require some bit of exploration on the Internet but you might chance upon a good deal.
Less Popular Destinations
Instead of popular destinations, look for the lesser-travelled ones. These won’t be just cost effective but also less crowded. Consider Indian destinations like Tadoba, Panchmarhi, Idduki (Kerala), Rann of Kutch, North East (with Tawang) and Assam (with Kaziranga).
Start Your Day Early
During the trip during peak season, consider starting your day early. This is useful when you are on a customized tour and not in a group tour. Plan your day in a way that you arrive at the popular sightseeing spots earlier that the peak timings. This will help you in avoiding long queues and therefore having a pleasant trip even during the busy season. Also do a good research about the spots. “Most must-see attractions often have a free day or reduced entry fee at certain times,” says Reshmi.
There’s Always a Smarter Way
This is Abhinav’s hack and a terrific one! His theory is that most people follow the herd mentality in forming queues at airports, outside sightseeing spots etc. So you always find the longest queues in the middle rows while the ones on the corners are short. This always works at airports especially at the immigration counters. Imagine standing outside an attraction for hours and finding one smart couple finding a loophole and exiting the spot even before you can enter it 😉
Be alert and smart to make the best of the packed holiday season!
Do you have any tips or hacks for travelling well during peak season? Do share your feedback.