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TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, has put its summer 2022 holidays on sale. The company says many customers are keen to make up for missed trips this year, so it’s expecting demand for 2022 to be high.
With residents of England and Wales currently unable to travel abroad until at least 2 December and no certainty that there won’t still be some UK-wide restrictions on travel next summer, it’s possible that many people will want to get something in the diary for 2022 instead.
But is it a good idea to book so far ahead?
Five reasons to book 2022 holidays now
It’s impossible to say whether you’ll get the best deal by booking early or late. If demand is high you could get the best price by booking early, but if it’s weaker than tour operators anticipate they will likely drop their prices closer to the departure date. It’s a gamble.
But there are other reasons why booking early could be a good idea:
Get your pick of the dates
If you already know where and when you want to go, you’re more likely to get exactly the holiday you want by booking as soon as programmes go on sale. This is especially true if you’re locked into school holidays, which tend to be the first dates to book up.
Take a look at Tui’s holiday programme for 2022.
Couples planning overseas weddings might also want to book early to get the right location. Kuoni, a Which? Recommended Provider that specialises in long-haul holidays and weddings and honeymoons, is already taking bookings all through 2022.
That said, you might want to wait until more tour operators have their 2022 holidays on sale so you can compare prices and what’s on offer.
Looking for a provider you can trust? See the full results of our best and worst package holiday providers.
Free child places
Free child places always get snapped up fast. TUI says it has ‘thousands’ of free child places for 2022, and P&O Cruises, which is already taking pre-registration for summer 2022 sailings, has child places from £49, but these deals aren’t likely to be around for long.
However, sometimes it’s cheaper to book with another operator that doesn’t offer free child places but has lower adult prices. It could be worth waiting to compare prices with other operators.
Book now, pay later
To encourage you to book early, Tui is offering the chance to reserve your 2022 holiday for zero deposit if you book online, or £75 per person if you book in store. P&O Cruises has low deposits of 5%. Other tour operators are likely to have similar offers when they launch their summer 2022 programmes.
But you should always check the operator’s terms and conditions. If you decide to change or cancel your holiday later, you might have to pay the full deposit. Under Tui’s T&Cs you’ll have to pay the remainder of the deposit – which is usually £200 or £250 per person – no later than 12 weeks after booking.
Early booking discounts
P&O Cruises is offering repeat bookers 10% off and new guests get a 5% discount on selected bookings, but only up to 14 December.
Tui and Kuoni aren’t offering early booking discounts at the moment, which is unusual. If you wait, you might find they have more offers next year.
Help to budget
Knowing now what you’ll pay for your holiday in almost two years will help you budget and spread the cost over a much longer period than usual.
But note that the price of your holiday can still go up in certain circumstances, such as if there is a fluctuation in exchange rates or an increase in taxes or fuel prices – see below.
Six reasons to wait before booking 2022 holidays
Even if you think COVID-19 won’t still disrupt travel in two years’ time, there are other factors that might prevent you from travelling, and compelling reasons to hold off on making a commitment:
Booking early is risky
Tour operators have introduced more flexible terms to encourage holidaymakers to book now for next summer, but they are likely to revert to their normal booking terms for 2022. At the moment, Tui’s standard T&Cs apply for 2022 bookings.
This means that if you decide to change or cancel your holiday because your circumstances change, you might forfeit your deposit and, depending on the change and when you make it, possibly as much as the full cost of your holiday.
Tui’s charges range from £25 to change the name on the booking to as much as 100% of the price of the holiday if you cancel within 14 days of departure.
It’s worth checking your operator’s T&Cs to see how much you could lose if your plans change and look for the most flexible operators. P&O Cruises will allow customers to move bookings as many times as they like before paying the balance.
Your money will be tied up
If you have to pay a deposit to reserve your holiday, this could mean having a considerable amount of money tied up for a couple of years.
Look for companies that offer zero or low deposits and that don’t require you to pay the full balance until much closer to the departure date.
The cost of your holiday might increase
Tour operators are allowed to increase the price of your holiday if costs over which they have no control rise by more than 2%. This is more likely to happen if you book so far in advance.
Brexit, and its possible impact on foreign exchange rates, makes holiday price increases from the end of the transition period (31 December) more likely. If the pound falls against the euro and the dollar, hotels in the eurozone and aviation fuel (which is priced in US dollars) will become more expensive. Taxes might also be introduced or increased. In these circumstances, you could be asked to pay more for a holiday you’ve already booked.
If your holiday goes up by more than 8% you’ll have the right to cancel with a full refund, but if you cancel because the price rises by 8% or less, you’ll risk losing what you’ve already paid.
You might have more choice if you wait
Tui is the first of the major tour operators to announce the sale of summer 2022 holidays. Its biggest rival, Jet2holidays, told us it doesn’t yet have a launch date for its 2022 programme.
Many smaller, more specialist travel companies are not likely to put their summer 2022 holidays on sale until well into next year. Balkan Holidays will launch its 2022 holidays next month.
Even those tour operators that are already selling summer 2022 holidays, such as Kuoni, are likely to have more choice if you wait. Kuoni says they are ‘constantly reviewing [their] programmes to anticipate current and future trends’.
Your holiday could change
Flight schedules are generally only confirmed up to 10 months in advance, so the timings of your holiday – or even the departure day or departure airport – might change, especially if your flight is on a third-party airline rather than one owned by the tour operator.
This might not bother you if you are flexible, but it could cause some inconvenience if you end up with a very early or very late flight or you can only travel at certain times on fixed days.
You do have the right to cancel any holiday if the change is significant, but you’re less likely to be inconvenienced the later you book.
Wait …and you could bag a bargain
If you’re flexible on where and when you travel, you might be better off waiting for a bargain closer to the time, particularly if you don’t have a fixed destination in mind.
Travel companies often drop prices at the last minute to shift excess holidays.