What to book? Caribtours (020 7751 0660; caribtours.co.uk)
is offering seven nights for the price of six at the excellent Coral Reef
Club in Barbados for departures between March 16 and April 3. Prices start
at £2,699 per person based on two adults sharing a garden room or cottage.
2. City break in Rome
Why book now? In March, flights to Italy’s cities (and other European
destinations) are comparatively good value (even if booked only a week or
two before departure), and city hotels are charging low-season prices.
You’ll pay more in April, particularly over the Easter weekend (April 18 to
20), so book this month instead.
What to book? Currently, return flights with easyJet (easyjet.com)
to Rome from Gatwick cost £117, departing Friday March 21 and returning
Monday March 24. This more than doubles to £261 return for flights departing
on Good Friday and returning on Easter Monday.
3. Skiing in the Alps
Why book now? The snow’s looking excellent in most Alpine resorts, and
during the first three weeks of March the slopes are crowd-free. So take
advantage of the good conditions and late deals on offer before March 28,
when schools break up.
What to book? Ski Total (01483 791933; skitotal.com)
is offering the Chalet Hotel Rosset in the French resort of Tignes for £618
(reduced from £848, a saving of £230) departing March 16, including chalet
board with wine.
The snow’s looking excellent in most Alpine resorts, and during the first
three weeks of March the slopes are crowd-free. Photo: Alamy
4. Madeira without supplements
Why book now? If you want to avoid paying a single supplement, book now
for the June shoulder season before the summer peak. Madeira’s quinta hotels
(restored manor houses) run a no-supplement offer in June, but you need to
act soon to be sure of securing a room.
What to book? Classic Collection Holidays (0800 294 9321; classic-collection.co.uk)
is offering the Quinta do Monte Hotel and Panoramic Gardens from £755 per
person in June, including sole occupancy of a twin superior
5. Early summer in Greece
Why book now? The Med is at its best from May to July. Good-value,
late-booking deals are often available but you need to book much earlier for
the smaller hotels, because these fill fast in the early summer weeks.
What to book? The singles specialist Friendship Travel (0871 200 2035; friendshiptravel.com)
still has some availability at the family-run, three-star Caesar’s Garden
Hotel in Lindos on Rhodes between May and early July. From £820 per person,
half-board with sole occupancy of a twin room.
6. Sun and fun in Italy
Why book now? For active breaks, the most popular departure month is
June, before it gets too hot in the Med and the schools break up. Places are
limited on this type of holiday, so they sell out early.
What to book? Solos Holidays (0844 815 0001; solosholidays.co.uk)
offers a North Italy Active holiday based in the three-star Albergo Monte
Bondone in the Dolomites, departing June 17. At £939 full-board, it includes
guided walks, mountain biking, wine tasting and river rafting, with
7. Berlin Wall anniversary tour
Why book now? This year marks 25 years since the fall of the Wall, so
escorted tours of the city are booking up fast. This one allows private
access to sites that are usually closed to the public.
What to book? Martin Randall Travel (020 8742 3355; martinrandall.com)
offers a four-day tour, Berlin: New Architecture, led by the architectural
historian Dr Harry Charrington. As well as the anniversary, it focuses on
contemporary building in the city. From £1,310 including most meals and
8. Gulet tour in Turkey
Why book now? Long-established tours that have stood the test of time,
and offer a good balance of relaxation, good food and cultural interest,
book up reliably year after year. Act soon.
What to book? The gulet specialist Peter Sommer Travels (01600 888220; petersommer.com)
has been offering the two-week Cruising the Lycian Shore from the Turkish
port of Antalya since 1997. Spaces are limited for the August 30 departure,
which costs from £3,665 full-board, including entrance fees and excursions.
Flights are extra.
Book now for tours during major cultural events, such as the Venice
Festival. Photo: Alamy
9. Vienna Festival
Why book now? Escorted tours that coincide with major cultural
attractions and events – in this case the Vienna Music Festival, which runs
from May 11 to June 19 – tend to sell out well before the departure dates.
What to book? Trafalgar (0800 533 5616; trafalgar.com)
offers a couple of 10-day Sound of Music tours during the festival. Other
tour highlights include Munich, Oberammergau and Salzburg. The May 23 tour
still has some spaces. The cost is £1,750 including door-to-door airport
transfers, six meals and sightseeing. Flights are extra.
10. Villas in the Med
Why book now? Properties with private pools, in seaside locations or
with the option of extra help, including chefs and nannies, always sell fast
for the peak summer months. Most have been booked for this year, so you need
to act fast.
What to book? Coastline (0844 557 1020; coastline.co.uk)
says its Majorcan villas, Ca’n Tirana near Pollensa (sleeping up to 10,
£870) and Ca’n Gat in Son Fe (sleeping six, £1,069), have only two or three
weeks left for this summer. The company’s top villa, Pinarello Beach House
in Corsica, is booked out until September. Prices are per person, per week,
with flights and car hire.
11. Top-end resort in Turkey
Why book now? To catch the last remaining early-booking incentives for
specific summer departures.
What to book? Sovereign Luxury Travel (0843 770 4526; sovereign.com)
is currently offering an early booking saving of 15 per cent per person, at
the all-inclusive, five-star Ela Quality Resort in Turkey for departures on
July 2. The price of £1,025 per person (a reduction of £354) includes one
Charming properties with private pools in desirable regions of France
are top sellers for self-catering specialists. Photo: Alamy
12. Provence farmhouses
Why book now? Charming properties with private pools in desirable
regions of France are top sellers for self-catering specialists – book now
for a decent choice of dates and villas.
What to book? Dominique’s Villas (020 3265 1052; dominiquesvillas.co.uk)
offers Les Lavandes (sleeping eight, £2,240) and Les Flamants Roses
(sleeping 11, £4,600), both traditional stone-built mas farmhouses in
Provence, which are particularly in demand. They have just a handful of
summer weeks still available.
13. Half-term skiing in 2015
Why book now? Families are just back from their half-term break and
already bagging their first choice of accommodation and resort for next
year. Act quickly if you have to travel during this week – places with
indoor pools, spa and in-house childcare sell first.
What to book? Esprit Ski (01483 791900; espritski.com)
offers Chalet Hotel des Deux Domaines in the French resort of Belle Plagne
from £1,519 per adult (discounts apply to children aged from two to 17). The
February 2015 price includes afternoon tea, children’s high tea and evening
meals with wine.
14. Family houses by the sea
Why book now? The best family-sized houses in Britain’s most desirable
destinations (especially near the coast, in national parks and in the West
Country) are always the quickest to go for summer holidays. Many have been
What to book? The National Trust (0844 335 1287; nationaltrustcottages.co.uk)
Honor’s House at Foage Farm (sleeping six, £1,665), part of an old Cornish
farmstead with views of Zennor Hill and the sea, has one July and one August
week still available. The Old Rectory, sleeping seven, overlooking Rhossili
Bay in South Pembrokeshire, is fully booked for summer 2014 and has bookings
as far ahead as May 2015.
15. Beach-club holidays in the Med
Why book now? Special early booking offers for a limited number of
half-term and summer holiday departures are disappearing fast, but a few
What to book? The beach-club specialist Neilson (0845 070 3460; neilson.co.uk)
is currently offering a saving of £844 on a half-term stay at the Turkish
resort of Adakoy in Marmaris Bay, departing Gatwick on May 24. The reduced
price is £2,543 for two adults and one child sharing a family room,
including most meals and activities.
16. River cruise on the Danube
Why book now? River cruises are growing in popularity fast, and since
the boats tend to be smaller than seagoing vessels, new tours can sell out
What to book? Emerald Waterways (0800 270 7017; is a river cruise
company that was launched last year. Its eight-day Danube Delights cruise,
including Vienna and Budapest,has already sold out for the summer.
However, space is available on the October 18 departure, with prices
starting at £1,695 full-board.
17. Black Sea Cruise
Why book now? Small-ship cruises with all-inclusive rates (no extras
for tips or excursions) and itineraries to popular destinations need booking
over a year in advance.
What to book? Noble Caledonian (020 7752 0000; noble-caledonia.co.uk)
offers a 12-night Circumnavigation of the Black Sea from Istanbul aboard the
72-berth Variety Voyager. Its May and September 2014 departures were sold
out a year ago and space is already limited for voyages on April 28 and May
10 2015. Prices start at £5,695 with flights, full-board with wine, shore
excursions, guest speaker, transfers, gratuities and port taxes.
18. Exploring the Galápagos
Why book now? Many travellers plan and book a year or more in advance
for tours to special destinations that are top of many people’s must-see
What to book? Ramblers Worldwide Holidays (01707 386755; ramblersholidays.co.uk)
releases only two Ecuador departures a year. Demand is high and numbers are
limited to 20 because of the size of its Galápagos cruise boat. Its two-week
departure on October 26 costs from £4,150 and includes two nights on the
Galápagos island of Santa Cruz with guided walks, as well as time in Quito
on the mainland.
19. Whale-watching off Gibraltar
Why book now? Small-group tours that focus on wildlife or birdwatching
are usually highly dependent on season – book at least six months ahead to
be sure of a place.
What to book? Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk)
offers a five-day Gibraltar and Tarifa: Whales, Dolphins and Autumn
Migration tour at £995 in mid September. The itinerary focuses on daily
excursions to view migrating birds (including warblers, flycatchers and
nightjars), plus whale and dolphin-watching excursions in the Straits of
20. Africa by rail
Why book now? Even six months ahead of departure, you will be lucky to
get a place on some top-of-the-range trips, especially those, like this one,
which include classic rail journeys.
What to book? Titan Travel (0800 988 5823; titantravel.co.uk)
offers a new, 17-day Tracks of Africa tour, including Cape Town and the
Victoria Falls, and a two-night journey on board Rovos Rail’s Pride of
Africa luxury train from Cape Town to Pretoria. Departure dates for 2014
have sold out, but Titan has managed to increase its allocation for tours
leaving on August 24 and September 12. Prices start at £4,445 with flight,
home departure transfers, 11 lunches and dinners, and two game drives.