Summer vacation planning is a welcome change in the often gray and cold winter days. If only it weren't for inflation and high energy prices, which have made life more expensive and put a dent in many travel budgets. The same factors also ensure that the prices for hotels and flights sometimes increase significantly.
Package tours for the 2023 summer holidays will be “sometimes drastically more expensive”, wrote the travel booking and rating portal Holidaycheck in mid-December in an early bird price analysis based on its own data for popular travel destinations.
Accordingly, a one-week package holiday for two adults and two school-age children on the Turkish Riviera cost an average of 3488 euros – that is an increase of 45 percent compared to 2019. For Mediterranean destinations from Mallorca to Greece, for the Canary Islands and Egypt, the average price range was between around 3200 and 4000 euros.
The large German tour operators are also expecting prices to rise in the summer and advise almost unanimously: if you want to save, you should take advantage of early bird offers instead of hoping for last-minute deals. Karolina Wojtal sees it similarly: "Last-minute is almost dead," says the expert from the European Consumer Center.
There are still plenty of early bird discounts. Because it gives the organizers a certain planning security if as many travelers as possible book early. How much savings are there for vacationers? We asked the organizers:
TUI Germany: As a rule, the largest German tour operator reports that most bargains for Easter, summer or autumn holidays can be discovered from November to the end of January or February. Discounts of 40 percent are possible here.
FTI: With early bird discounts, a discount of up to 55 percent on the hotel price is possible, says the Munich provider. The latest possible booking date would be March 31, 2023. Anyone who decides on one of the early bird offers by then can travel at a reduced price in the period between May and October.
DER Touristik: With Dertour and the sister brands ITS and Meiers Weltreisen, the discounts are also staggered according to key dates. The highest discounts on hotel prices were until the end of December. That's over now. Further key dates are the end of January and the end of March. There are also "rolling variants" of discounts - depending on how early you book before the start of your trip. If you book 90 days in advance, you can save more than if you book 30 days in advance.
Schauinsland-Reisen: For the summer season from May to October 2023, there are often higher discounts for bookings made by January 31st. But even those who decide by the end of March can still save a lot of money, the Duisburg-based company reports. The amount of the discount varies depending on the region and hotel. For the Balearic Islands, for example, savings of up to 30 percent on the hotel price are possible.
Alltours: The tour operator from Düsseldorf offers early bird discounts of up to 35 percent. Advantage here: With Alltours, the cancellation or rebooking of a holiday is possible up to 14 days before departure without extra charge. With most providers, the Flex tariffs cost extra.
Anex Tour: The company's travel brands - Bucher Reisen, Öger Tours, Neckermann Reisen and Anex Tour - grant a discount of up to 50 percent on the hotel price for bookings made by January 31. For bookings up to the end of March, up to 35 percent are possible. The information applies to the entire summer season from the beginning of April to the end of October.
As attractive as the discounts are: booking early means making a commitment early. But who knows what else will happen in the long time until the start of the holiday?
The pandemic has made people cautious and cautious, especially when it comes to long-term bookings. This is one of the reasons why the organizers introduced flex tariffs. They usually cost a surcharge, but travelers then have the option of canceling or rebooking the trip free of charge up to a certain point in time without giving reasons.
And so the organizers are now arguing: book early, get the cheaper prices and protect yourself against imponderables with the flex tariff. Does this calculation add up?
From the point of view of consumer advocate Karolina Wojtal, the flex tariffs can be a good option, especially for early bookers. “Of course you have to factor in the additional cost for this. But you can invest the savings from the early bird discount in the Flex tariff to take away any uncertainties.”
But even if she sees the introduction of these tariffs for travelers as an improvement: she has a hard time with their time limits, says Wojtal. Some of the tariffs only allow free cancellation up to two weeks before the start of the trip, some the deadlines are even longer.
If you come across a more attractive travel offer after booking or if you realize when your holiday is approaching that your financial reserves are no longer sufficient and you need the money elsewhere, then these periods may be sufficient. But, says Wojtal: "Life often only makes itself known at short notice." She refers to figures from the insurance industry, according to which trips are often only canceled seven days in advance or even less quickly.
The "gap" between the expiry date of the flex tariffs and the start of the trip can be at least partially closed with travel cancellation insurance. It steps in if your holiday is canceled at short notice due to illness or an accident, for example, and bears the resulting cancellation fees. Especially if you are traveling with children or the holiday costs a lot of money, you should think about such an insurance, says Wojtal.
But all other holidaymakers should also think about whether and how they can secure a booked trip, according to the consumer advocate. "The lightheartedness isn't back yet. We see how quickly situations can still change.” That's why she advises: still travel with your eyes wide open.
Saving money is always welcome, especially in these times. This also applies to holiday bookings. Here are simple tips to save money when planning your trip.
1. Change departure airport: If you expand the travel search to more distant departure airports, new and possibly cheaper flights will appear. The train ride to the airport is included in many package tours (“Rail
2. Travel dates vary: Does the trip have to be from Saturday to Saturday or last exactly 14 days? If you are flexible about the days of arrival and departure and the duration of the trip, you can make bargains. So also check flights during the week and "crooked" travel periods such as 13 or 15 days.
3. Take children's discounts with you: Many tour operators offer enormously discounted children's prices for certain hotels and destinations. It's worth taking a close look here.
4. Compare in detail: What is included in the package tour? Supposedly cheaper offers sometimes turn out to be not so great bargains on closer inspection - because, for example, the hotel transfer is not included and you would have to organize the 100 kilometers from the airport to the hotel yourself.
That's why you have to keep an eye on all the components of an offer when comparing: from the room furnishings, to the meals, the included activities, to the arrival and departure.
5. Take off-peak times: Sure, nobody likes to take off at 4:30 a.m. – or arrive at the hotel at 1 a.m. after landing in the evening. But holiday planes also take off very early and late – understandably, these connections are not that popular. The package tour is then often much cheaper.
6. Avoid Holidays: F Impossible for families with school-age children, but a money-saving option for most others. Anyone who travels between the Pentecost and summer holidays or only in September avoids the popular holiday periods. Then there is often less hustle and bustle at the holiday destination and in the hotel.