Mid-term is closer than you think, says Ireland's Travel Journalist of the Year.
It used to be that January was the top time to book a holiday.
Bloated and broke after Christmas, we took to the travel agents to book on the cheap and ease the painful prospect of weeks without a pay check. As the economy picks up, however, travellers are planning further in advance - and September has become an increasingly important month for mapping out trips for the months and year ahead.
"With the arrival of September comes a real feeling of despondency," according to Cliff Arnall, a psychologist who has been working with British Airways. "We feel the summer was over too quickly, or in the case of the weather this year, never got started..."
Focusing on our next break helps to interrupt "stress pathways", he suggests.
I know the feeling. The blackberries are turning, the heating is on boost, and I for one have been scanning the mid-term break (October 26-30) for getaway opportunities.
Packages are a problem, however. During the recession, Irish tour operators pared back their September and October schedules, and rising demand has seen even two-star packages to the Canaries top €500pp this year. The Algarve and Costa del Sol aren't far behind, though you'll still find some value in Morocco and Turkey.
What to do?
The trick is to think outside of the traditional seven-day set-up, and look at tour operators who can package accommodation with scheduled Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights. Being nimble like this allows you to get away for a few days, avoiding peak times, prices and who knows, maybe even those stress pathways.
Mid-term breaks don't have to fit the seven-day package template, you know. Gohop.ie has a three-night break in Amsterdam departing October 27, for instance, with accommodation in the Ibis Budget Hotel from €207pp.
Closer to home, Athlone's Radisson Blu (radissonblu.ie) has a two-night break for a family of four including one dinner and a family pass to the cinema from €388, and Galway's Twelve Hotel (thetwelvehotel.ie) has a two-night break including one dinner and a pizza masterclass from €499.
Independent Travel (travel.independent.ie) has Aer Lingus flights to Paris, three nights' 4-star accommodation and four-day Park Hopper passes at Disneyland Paris from €1,489 for two adults and one child departing October 27.
For something different, Adventure Holidays (adventure-holidays.ie) has a seven-night Catalonia Family Cycling Holiday from €2,574 for a family of four, including B&B, transfers and bike rental but not flights. Autumn is a gorgeous time of year to get active in this part of Spain, and Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Girona.
NB. All prices subject to availability.