To avoid peak pricing, plan your travel 60 to 90 days in advance.
Look for places that have multiple flights by low-cost or no-frills airlines, suggests Daniel D'souza, president and country head, SOTC Travel.
The pandemic has transformed the idea of travel.
Being restricted to the confines of our homes for nearly 18 months and watching the world virtually has inspired many to rebuild their bucket list.
With easing restrictions, vaccine acceptancy and reopening of borders one can finally start planning that long overdue, much needed break and ring in the New Year on a new note.
Designing your own vacation can be quite a herculean task and hence planning is essential.
The holiday season being a peak travel season around the world with crowds flocking the most favourite destinations, getting the required bookings can pose as a challenge.
It is thus essential to practice the 6P’s of planning a holiday.
1. Pre planning
Planning in advance is the most crucial element of travelling during the holiday season.
Whether travelling solo or with a group, a good vacation, in terms of a preferred destination, duration of stay and unwinding via entertainment and recreational activities requires some amount of planning.
Peak season brings with it surged prices be it flights, transportation, or accommodations.
To avoid season pricing, keep a close eye on the calendar and plan your travel at least 60 to 90 days in advance keeping tentative dates in mind.
Ensure that there is enough time at hand to do a thorough research on the destinations, experiences, and know exactly what kind of experiences are a 'must do' in the itinerary.
In case you are looking for deals on short notice, finding a good deal may not be easy and you will need to search a lot more.
If you are intending to travel to international destinations, one must be cognizant that visa processing takes time and must therefore plan accordingly.
Alternately, one can also consider exploring destinations that allow visa on arrival like Thailand, the Maldives and Mauritius among others.
Every country has their set of Covid safety and quarantine protocols.
Be sure to examine them before booking your tickets.
2. Pick your preferences
It is always a good idea to choose your travel preferences well in advance to avoid last minute complications.
For instance, it is ideal to briefly study the destination and book flights as per preferences well in advance to avoid the rapid surge of airfare and hotel costs.
Shortlisting a destination simplifies the process of planning further.
While some places are a must-visit around this time of the year, a lot of picturesque places that may be in their off season are likely to offer budget friendly experiences and unique offerings.
A thorough research will help gain the necessary insight into the destination and help design a great itinerary.
Notably, when choosing a destination, one should look for places that have multiple flights by low-cost or no-frills airlines.
If there are more flights to a destination, the overall package cost will be lower as there is travel competition for that destination.
While making bookings, it is advisable to compare flight and accommodation costs with multiple portals before deciding the final one.
This will not only aid in understanding the array of choices you can choose from, but also help you get the best deals for your holiday.
3. Plan your finances
Setting the budget is key!
When choosing a destination, one must have an understanding of ballpark costs of the essential requirements and experiences of the place; this will help draw a budget for the holiday.
Experts say that travelers only tend to calculate the hotel, travel and sight-seeing costs and may end up spending five times the amount on shopping and other activities.
Another factor to be mindful about is the exchange rate of the currency of the place you are visiting.
If the rupee is appreciating against a currency, it would be a good idea to plan a holiday to those destinations amidst the holiday season.
One can also explore domestic destinations if a foreign holiday is stretching finances.
Expenses can be curtailed by exploring accommodation options like Oyo and Airbnb instead of premium or luxury hotels as per preference.
4. Putting reward points to use
Booking holidays are the perfect time to redeem your membership points -- be it from your credit cards, air miles, or loyalty programs, be sure to avail best offers while making bookings.
Loyalty programs offer great perks and utilising reward points will only enhance your travel experience and make your holiday one to remember for a long time.
5. Pick the right holiday partner
If you are a new traveler and don’t exactly know how to go about planning your first peak holiday, find yourself a holiday partner who will navigate you through the process.
Picking a good travel company simplifies the hassle of doing it yourself.
A good travel company comes with specialists who curate the whole experience for you to make each holiday one to remember.
These travel experts will curate your itinerary for you and ensure you don’t miss out on any highlight the destination has to offer in your time there.
If there are additional elements you would like included in your itinerary that can certainly be done.
The intent is to ensure you have the most memorable holiday.
6. Pick the right insurance
Though travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense, having travel insurance is mandatory in Europe.
It may not be a prerequisite in all countries but it’s one that could save you from enormous out-of-pocket expenses regardless of whether you choose to holiday in India or abroad.
Picking the right insurance is equally important.
Opting for a comprehensive travel insurance plan will protect a portion of your non-refundable hotel, resort, or rental-property deposits if you are forced to cancel for a covered reason, flight cancellation, if your belongings and personal effects are stolen, or if you were to fall ill and require medical attention.
Be sure to get adequate cover and always check what is excluded in the insurance. There is nothing worse than having denied claims for inapplicable clauses.