Our resident holiday expert Rob Farrow is here to provide guidance, advice and answers to your holiday dilemmas. In this edition he looks at getting the most from autumn and winter breaks.
As the autumn draws in, traditionally people’s thoughts turn away from holidays and towards nights indoors, but things have changed. Gone is the old mentality of holidays being restricted to a two week break in the middle of summer. Today, people are holidaying more frequently, but for shorter periods. A recent report stated that the average holiday duration is now 2 – 3 nights but people are taking up to 6 -8 little escapes a year.
Savvy urbanites can capitalise on this trend and get some fresh air out of the city whilst saving money by avoiding the hoards of people who have to go away during the school holidays.
So here are some top tips for cost effective autumn and winter breaks.
Go for the experience and travel light.
Whether it be a hotel, a cottage, a lodge or a yurt, one of the biggest hassles of preparing for a holiday is the packing of the clothes & food. The longer you go for, the more you need. So make life simple; book one and two night trips. Then you can pack just the essentials, there’s no need for six pairs of jeans if you’re staying one night. If your going self catering, why take the entire contents of the fridge? Treat everyone and have a take away; it makes the experience more fun.
Don’t follow the herd.
The autumn and winter are wonderful times to get away if you wish to avoid the school rush and still benefit from lower rates. Bear in mind that even in the winter weekend breaks can be in high demand as some smaller boutique hotels will close for a well deserved break. In short there is less accommodation outside large firms in the winter. Switched on buyers are now realising they can get some great rates by spreading holidays throughout the year. By being flexible on your dates and avoiding weekends you might be able to get a better rate if your booking fills a gap as independent hoteliers look to fill beds midweek.
Shhh, don’t tell anyone but… a computer doesn’t have feelings or empathy. An automated booking system won’t know that it’s your anniversary or birthday but the person reading your email may just do something nice because of it, so speak directly to someone rather than booking online or through comparison sites. Logically if you’re booking through a third party they will have to be paid, why shouldn’t you benefit instead of them? Those voucher deals you see cost the accommodation provider sometimes as much as 70% in commission and discount. As such they normally have to cut back on what they can provide for a booking received via an agency. If you find a deal you like with an independent provider, go direct. Email them and ask if they can do something for a direct booking. Most of the time they’ll be able to better the price or add something.
Remember, supply is limited.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the autumn and winter is all about huge discounts and that the accommodation providers are desperate. With many independents closing in the winter, options are limited and ‘peak times’ will still attract a premium rate. If you want a break for October Half Term, Christmas or New Year, better make sure your deposit is in before the end of September to avoid things being fully booked.
Baden Powell’s scout motto has stood the test of time. So it’s raining; “there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Pack appropriately and be prepared for the weather then you can embrace it and have a great time. Remember, rain doesn’t sting and mud doesn’t bite. You may even find your inner child by christening your wellingtons whilst jumping in puddles! Don’t under estimate how much fun it can be sitting in a hot tub with warm water up to your neck as the rain falls.
It sounds odd but remember, the person dealing with enquiries receives hundreds of new messages each day. If you are nice to them, they’ll be nice to you; you may even benefit from it.
Whatever option you choose, all you need for a fun winter break is to prepare, pack for the weather and have a positive attitude!