Pól Ó Conghaile: September and April are sweet spots for holiday savings
Holiday business is picking up, says Pól Ó Conghaile, but you can still make savings... if your timing is right.
We're on the home straight of the busiest holiday season in years.
Airports are reporting record crowds, business is booming for travel agents and inbound tourism is flying. Good news all round - unless, of course, you've left it until now to book your getaway.
Don't despair. If you have a little flexibility, there's still some sneaky value to be had on departures from August 29 onwards - the week straddling the return to school.
If you can fit into that slot, or push your holiday out into September, you could nab sunny weather, cheaper prices and fewer crowds to boot.
You need to act fast, however. Ireland's wet summer has sparked a rush on late getaways, so autumn deals won't last long.
For the best value, look to Egypt, where Red Sea Holidays (redseaholidays.ie) has 5-star, all-inclusive packages in Sharm El Sheikh from €690pp going to press.
There's lots of capacity to Turkey, too - Lowcostholidays.ie has a 4-star package departing September 11 from €412pp. As I write, Crystal Alfresco (crystalalfresco.ie) also has a 2-star mobile home holiday near Lake Garda from €299pp departing August 29.
September isn't the only sweet spot.
Ski and winter sun prices tend to dip in mid-January, and with Easter holidays stretching to three weeks in March next year, April is looking tasty too. The return to school coincides with the launch of the 2016 summer airline schedules, so expect capacity increases and a wider range of destinations to open up a neat little city break window.
September savings, anyone?
Going to press, Budget Travel (budgettravel.ie) had mid-month departures to the Canary Islands from €329pp for seven nights.
Falcon Holidays' NRG brand for 'young and lively' travellers (falconholidays.ie) had two weeks for the price of one in Bulgaria from €289pp, based on four sharing.
Push out later into the month and the prices drop even further. Cassidy Travel (cassidytravel.ie), for instance, had seven-night packages to Corfu departing September 23 from just €235pp, based on two sharing in 3-star accommodation.
Sunway: New cruise section
Cruise holidays continue to boom, with the latest development coming in the shape of a new cruise website (or at least, new section of a website) from Sunway.
It features a host of ocean and river holiday options, with a dedicated team of cruise specialists awaiting your call - you can't yet book online.
Rates include a Western Med cruise aboard Norwegian Epic in November from €599pp, and a southern Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean next February from €980pp. See sunway.ie/cruise.
NB: All prices subject to availability/change.