10 Things… You Really Should Know Before Booking a Holiday 7 years ago

10 Things… You Really Should Know Before Booking a Holiday

We were treated to a little taster of sunshine last week, now we want more! If you’re turning your thoughts to weekend breaks or summer sojourns, check out our list of the ten things you really should know before booking a holiday.

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Timing is everything

It’s very hard to say when a “best” time to book might be. Demand for flights, competition, weather and so much more can affect the upward or downward climbs for your flight (often the most expensive part of a holiday). It’s no science, but a study of the existing data does suggest that between 50 and 100 days from your date of travel is the best window. By a small margin, Tuesday is considered the cheapest day to book, followed by Sunday.

Compare and contrast

Whether you prefer the advice of a veteran travel agent or you act as your own bargain hunter online, resist the temptation to ever jump at the first offer (unless it’s a flight flash sale – then all bets are off). Comparison websites allow you to see multiple ways of getting from A to B, and there’s nothing to say you have to stick with the same airline your parents used for your family holidays in the 90s. Unless you’re incredibly fussy about the in-flight snacks, there’s a lot to be said for saving on the travel and splurging on a great holiday experience instead.

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Don’t get cut off at the the pass(port)

Yes, this seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but hands up who hasn’t misplaced a passport at some stage? Make sure yours is up to date long before you get ready to leave for the airport, and bear in mind that several countries require specific periods of validity. So your passport might be good for another three months, but that won’t be good enough to get you in to Dubai.

You’ve got baggage

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Baggage allowances can differ substantially from airline to airline, so that overnight bag you brought on a recent hen may cause you no trouble at all on one flight, but be responsible for bankrupting you on another. Note all of the details at the time of booking and write them down as a reference point to check before you leave for the airport.

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Money, money, money matters

It’s well worth paying attention to the value of the Euro if you’re planning to travel outside of the Eurozone. You might find a great deal today for a trip to New York, but if you’re dreaming of shopping ‘til you drop - remember that €1,000 at today’s rate will only get you $1,070. If you have a long lead into your holiday you can save money by keeping track of currency rates and buying when they dip/rise in your favour.

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No missed connections

Taking a less-than-direct route can often save you lots of money, but that’s very little use if you get to the likes of Heathrow or JFK with ten minutes to make your next flight… which happens to be in a terminal that’s a bus-ride and two long walks away. Leave yourself room for margins of error. Keep a book in your handbag to pass the time if it turns out you don’t need those windows – better safe than sorry.

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Check the weather

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Again, this might seem like an obvious one – but it’s not all about the sun. If you’ve dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights, you should know that they are at their peak in September in March. If you’re off skiing, you should research when the pistes are most likely to have fresh snow. The beach parties in Thailand may not go hand in hand with Monsoon season… you get the picture.

Check the climate

And we’re not talking about the weather this time. Several global sun-soaker spots are in countries with a restless political climate. While this rarely affects coastal holiday resorts, if you’re planning a trip to a local city or the capital, you should have a good grasp on the customs of the country and an awareness of any political instability. Dress with respect to the country’s traditions and behave in an appropriate manner in all communal areas. Maybe don't follow the SATC example.

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Put a pin in it

We have a horror story in the Her.ie office of one staffer who was queuing at immigration pre a long-awaited holiday, only to be asked for her vaccination papers. It was the first she’d heard of needing any. Needless to say, that mistake will not be made again.

Insure and ensure

You might be of the “Sure nothing will happen to me, it never has before!” school of thought, but one slip on a step to the beach later and you could be in the red for thousands. To say nothing of the heartbreak so many have been through when your bag full of clothes and holiday shopping never makes it home. Shop around for a good deal on travel insurance and don’t skip it.

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Bonus Mention: Check for any local festivals/religious observances before you book. That quirky little festival that takes over the sleepy town of Tarragona might be a very welcome bonus. Being unable to eat or drink in public during Ramadan? Not so much. Get informed before you fly and make the very most of your precious days off.