Tired of the cold? Need a well-deserved break by the beach? Mark Evans rounds up the deals and bargains available in sunnier climes both near and far
SUN HOLIDAYS: With more families feeling less of a pinch this year, it's wise to book ahead - especially if you're thinking of one big summer holiday.
Leaving it to the last minute means you might not get the destination, or even the flight seat, you want, so plan ahead. Budget Travel is already offering a number of family holiday deals, with the Algarve - a perennial favourite - on offer for August.
A two adults and one child week in Paraiso de Albufeira is on offer for €1,366 from August 10 - a saving of €1,150. And booking early can get two adults and two children a week in Majorca at Club Marthas in Cala D'Or for €1.861 from July 19.
In mainland Spain, Benidorm's Sol Pelicanos is €1,969 for a 2+2 family from July 30, a saving of €557, or save €520 by staying at Salou's Sol Costa Daurada in Tarragona for two adults and two children for €1,888 from August 17. All available from www.budgettravel.ie
On a tighter budget you can get the family to the sun in Majorca from €755 (two adults and one child). Based on travel in May, it includes seven nights in the BelleVue Club Apartments in Alcudia, with Aer Lingus flights. See www.clickandgo.com
Got five-star tastes but only a two-star budget? Click and go is also offering luxury in Crete from €369pp.
That gets you a week in the five-star Iolida Beach Hotel, with return Aer Lingus flights. Price is based on two adults sharing in a double room for travel in April.
Click and go is also offering holidays that are more than 10 weeks away, with only a €1 deposit to put down now.
All inclusive really took off last year, and bargain-hunters are well catered for again this year. Thomson is one of the biggest players in this market, and has an early summer deal to Ibiza, departing Dublin on May 27.
A week in the four-star Sirenis Club Aura, all inclusive, for two adults and one child comes in at €1,819 (including free child place).
The family-focused hotel is a few minutes' walk from Port des Torrent Beach and offers free entry to the water park next door. The hotel includes mini-disco for kids and nightly shows.
And couples are also catered for with both Thomson and Falcon offering all inclusive to its newest destination: the Greek island of Kos.
Its couples' offering, departing Dublin on September 5, cost €949pps, a saving of €80pp, at the four-star Oceanis, Psalidi, on an all-inclusive basis.
Click and go is offering a five-star holiday in Turkey from €359pp, for a week at the Kusadasi Golf & Spa Resort. Price is based on two adults sharing in a double room for travel in April.
WINTER SUN: If you can't wait until summer to see a little bit of sunshine, fear not. Falcon has deals to the heat, starting at €279pps. That price will get you a week in Gran Canaria's Jardin Atlantico, Playa del Ingles, departing January 24. A day earlier you can go to Sharm El Sheikh, staying all inclusive at Coral Sea Waterworld, from €639pp.
To book, log on to: www.falconholidays.ie call Falcon Direct on: 1850 45 35 45 or visit your nearest Falcon Travel shop.
Sister company Thomson is offering a week in Gran Canaria's Cay Beach Princess, Maspalomas, for €349pp, departing January 24.
Sunway, meanwhile, is offering good 'winter warmer' deals with a week in Morocco from €199 self catering at the Tilila Studios, departing next Saturday. Also next Saturday it has a week in Fuerteventura from €299 at the Oasis Dunas Apartments, or Tenerife from €269 on January 18 and Lanzarote from €299 on January 17.
Book with www.sunway.ie or call Sunway at 01 2311800.
cruises: One of the fastest-growing sectors is river cruising, which began to make inroads in Ireland last year.
The biggest player on the market is Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, which is high end but offering high value as it has moved to all inclusive on its ships (still a rarity on ocean ships).
It's got a new year sale, with a trip to Bordeaux, taking in vineyards and chateaux, reduced from €2,688pps to just €1,399pps.
Departing March 29, the eight-day trip includes seven nights in a riverview stateroom, all meals and drinks, tips and daily excursions.
Also on sale is a trip down the Danube from Budapest to Passau (eight days in total), departing April 5.
It's been reduced from €2,898pps to €1,619pps and again includes all meals, drinks and exciting excursions.
Log on to www.uniworld.ie or call the Dublin office on 01 775 3803.
Ocean-wise, Royal Caribbean's revolutionary Anthem of the Seas debuts from Southampton in April.
With bumper cars, robot bartenders and onboard skydiving, it's something else.
Packages are available, and it's also a handy enough drive from Ireland to the port if that's your thing. MSC, meanwhile, has added Valetta in Malta as a port on its Western sailings this year.
Departing from Barcelona, the seven-night itinerary aboard MSC Fantasia takes in Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valetta and La Goulette in Tunisia before returning to Barcelona.
Fly-cruises are available from €1,369 per person as part of MSC Cruises' current free flights offer. Flights worth €200pp are available on MSC Fantasia departures from Barcelona between July 17 and August 28 when booked before January 31. See www.msccruises.ie or call 1800 932499.
All inclusive is gaining ground on the ocean waves too - check out specials with cruise package experts including www.americanholiays.ie, www.cruiseholidays.ie and www.etravel.ie
CITY BREAKS: Dublin Airport has a range of new destinations if you're into a DIY holiday, including Reykjavik in Iceland with Wow Air; Gothenburg in Sweden with SAS; and Helsinki in Finland with Finnair. Expect these and other destinations to feature in offers from specialist city break package operators such as www.travelescapes.ie
If you want a ready-made package, Lisbon is one of the best value European capitals for tourists. A three-night break with click and Go costs from €179pp. Based on two travelling next months, it includes accommodation in the Hotel 3k Madrid and Aer Lingus flights.
long haul; Seeing more of the globe needn't cost the earth, with some good deals on offer for January bookers. Luxury touring specialists Insight Vacations are offering a seven-day Essence of India escorted tour, departing February 22. Reduced to €1,250pp, with flights extra but available at good rates, it's a luxurious way to see the best of the sub continent.
Highlights include a cycle rickshaw ride through Old Delhi', a visit to the Taj Mahal, left, in Agra and The Palace of Winds in Jaipur and a trip to Samode Palace in Rajasthan.
Staying in top hotels, the trip includes welcome and celebration dinners, breakfasts, some drinks and highlight lunch. Stay for seven nights and pay for four nights or stay 14 nights and pay for 10 nights. Book before January 31 to save a further 10pc. Contact your travel agent, visit www.insightvacations.com, or call 01 7753803.
Travelmood has a number of offers this month, including a week at the four-star Evason Hua Hin in Thailand on a B&B basis from €879pp, travelling this May.
Or if you're in honeymoon mode, there are half price offers on seaplane transfers in the Maldives, plus free night offers. Spend seven nights in the four-star Meeru Island Resort & Spa on a full-board basis from €1,399pp, travelling in June. Offers must be booked by January 31. For more information or to book visit www.travelmood.ie, or call 01 4331063.