With rising energy bills and mortgage costs, we face a dark and gloomy winter. It’s no surprise, then, that more and more people are hoping to get away from it all by flying to sunnier climes for a long vacation in January.
Travel agencies are offering three and four week all-inclusive holidays to tourists young and old as a way to escape the grim realities of home – with prices starting at £23 a day. But is it so easy to fly away for the winter?
What is offered
EasyJet is the latest operator to offer a deal for a four-week stay in the sun in January. His Escape the UK package cost £650 pp for an all-inclusive stay at Stella Gardens Resort in Egypt.
Touted as an alternative to a winter in the UK amid the cost of living crisis, the company says the trip is “ideally suited for those who can work remotely”.
It’s unclear how many stays were on offer, and easyJet says a “limited number” were available. They were sold out on their first day of release, with no specific details on when the offer would be reintroduced.
Travel giant Tui also offers cheap all-inclusive deals. Four weeks at the three-star Port Vista Oro hotel in Benidorm, Spain, costs £898 pp full board – or £32 a day for all meals and flights from Gatwick in early January.
Tui says that to date there has been an 18% increase in the number of people wanting to go on three- and four-week holidays this winter, compared to pre-pandemic interest levels in 2019.
How can they be so cheap?
It is not surprising that holidays in winter are significantly cheaper than during peak hours in summer. The Stella Gardens Resort, highlighted above, would cost £4,585 for the same holiday in August.
Tui says prices are dictated by when and where people want to travel, as well as how they book.
Tim Hentschel, managing director of HotelPlanner, a hotel booking site specializing in group rates, says it’s possible to get “unbelievably cheap” deals during low season as businesses try to win money with rooms that would otherwise be empty, even if it doesn’t cover all of their costs. “So the hotel is still losing money but…not that much money,” he says.
Extended holidays, he adds, have become increasingly popular since the pandemic, with people wanting to get out of city centres. “The traveler is more accustomed to booking extended stays at discounted prices and with the energy crisis looking at the same option and thinking they can save.”
The end of pandemic-related restrictions has led to an increase in holiday bookings, with people resuming tourism.
But recent months have seen new skepticism emerge as the reality of the poor economic situation sets in, says Wouter Geerts, director of research at travel industry site Skift.
“With high inflation and talk of a possible recession, we are seeing in our surveys that people are starting to change their travel plans – either by canceling or postponing trips, or, at the very least, by choosing alternative options. cheaper hotel and transportation,” he said. said.
“After months of extremely high demand, these businesses may start to see demand drop during the winter months as people tighten their belts. Offering all-inclusive deals is a great option in these situations, especially since travelers don’t have to worry about currency exchange rates and fluctuations in the pound.
But will you save money?
Spending a month in the sun will get you away from some things, including the British winter cold, but others will stick around and have to be paid for.
EasyJet says its £650 vacation means people will save on broadband and gym memberships – but, as many people have been on subscription plans and can’t just stop direct debits due to contracts, this is unlikely to be a realistic saving.
The idea that it would be cheaper to live in Egypt for a month than in the UK is kind of crazy… the banks are still waiting for their mortgage money
Wouter Geerts, Travel Industry Site Skift
“While it’s an interesting marketing tactic, the idea that it would be cheaper to live for a month in Egypt than in the UK is a little ridiculous,” says Geerts. “The way he calculated this is based on the current costs of a mortgage, energy, subscription services, etc.
“But the banks are still waiting for their mortgage payment even when you’re on a deck chair in Egypt. It’s a good marketing tool that fits in with the times.
One area where there will be a saving is on energy bills during the coldest part of the year. Typically, more than half of a gas bill comes from heating your home during the coldest three months of the year. If you have a big house, you could save £200 a month on your bills by going abroad.
However, couples will need to consider whether spending perhaps close to £2,000 on holiday will be worth the savings they will make. All-inclusive deals also mean you save on food and sometimes drinks.
Things to watch out for
The growth of remote working driven by the Covid pandemic has supposedly led to an increase in the number of ‘digital nomads’ – people who can, in theory, work from anywhere once they have a laptop and an internet connection.
Airbnb said a growing number of people using the platform are staying for longer periods, with a fifth of stays for 28 days or more, which Geerts says reflects flexible working trends.
But working remotely might not be as simple as catching a flight and opening your computer. Working from abroad may result in visa and tax obligations for UK citizens.
If you are going to an EU country, you do not need a visa for stays of less than 90 days within a 180-day period. However, if you want to work, you may need a visa or permit. Potential digital nomads should check entry requirements before travelling.
And a World Cup travel warning
Football fans planning to travel last minute for the World Cup in Qatar have been warned to beware of bogus booking agents and offers. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has advised travelers to ensure that the company they are booking with is part of its Atol programme, which means they will be in safe hands if their holiday is canceled or if they are stranded abroad.
CAA’s Paul Smith says if England and Wales are successful in the competition, some fans might be tempted to travel to Qatar at the last minute. However, he warned that they should research the chosen travel agency to avoid ‘losing’.
The number of holiday scams that defrauded consumers of thousands of pounds jumped earlier this year as the end of pandemic restrictions led to a resurgence in overseas travel. Under the Atol program, if a tour operator goes out of business, you will be reimbursed for your vacation, or alternative travel, or transportation.
The CAA advises fans to use a credit card to book so that their purchase is covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If something goes wrong, your credit card issuer should be able to refund amounts ranging from £100 to £30,000.
In addition, you must take out travel insurance. Consumers can check if the travel agency they are using is part of the Atol program on the CAA website.