Christmas is still months away, but travel experts recommend booking holidays now to avoid disappointment and hopefully save some money.
Many Australians hoping to travel or see family during the country’s most popular holiday seasons have been left disappointed in the past three years, thanks to the COVID lockdowns and the 2019 bushfires.
And it will be busy again this year, with the Easter break proving Australians have a travel appetite, even as issues with airlines and airports throw plans into chaos.
Data from Stayz shows that one in five Australians had already booked their Christmas break in June, and a further 19 percent expect to finalize their plans by the end of July.
This is a shift from pre-pandemic behaviour, with Stayz travel expert Simone Scoppa saying people were more likely to delay organizing their year-end plans until just a few months in advance.
“Before the pandemic, September was the most common month for travelers to book their summer vacation,” she said.
“But for the past two years, this peak period has shifted to the middle of the year as travelers get up early to secure their vacation home.
“While there is still availability across the country, if you want to stay in a vacation home during the summer, make plans now.”
Christmas break to overthrow Easter records
Expedia Australia and Wotif Group director Daniel Finch said Australians are “deadly excited” to travel at Christmas, and Wotif data shows many people are already booking their travel plans.
The number of trips over the Christmas holidays could even surpass this year’s Easter period, when airports struggled to cope with their busiest day in two years as thousands of people flew interstate for the long weekend.
“Easter this year was huge, it was definitely bigger than previous years, prior to COVID,” said Mr. Finch.
“This Christmas period and summer period we are definitely seeing higher numbers than we have seen in some time.”
Spotlight on regional Australia
Not only are Australians making travel plans earlier this year, they are also more open to discoveries.
Data from Wotif shows that traditional tourist destinations such as the Gold Coast, Great Ocean Road and the Whitsundays still top the list in terms of accommodation demand between December and February.
But there has also been an explosion in demand for regional Australian cities, with areas such as Ballarat, Victoria and Toowoomba, Queensland, enjoying interest rate hikes of more than 200 percent.
“People like to change their environment and are looking for some friendly regional hospitality,” said Mr. Finch.
He said the expansion of vacation areas means the traditional hotspots don’t fill up as quickly, creating a more even spread of accommodation availability.
Prices are good – for now
All the top travel destinations are currently good value for money, but will become more expensive as time goes on, Finch said.
“We’re starting to see prices generally start to move around November, especially in December,” he said.
“And then, if you put it off until the last minute in January, you could get a little caught up in there.
“Start looking now because you can get some really good deals.”
Mr Finch said traditional accommodation, such as hotels and motels, will take the longest to raise prices as booking availability dries up.
But the prices of holiday homes are more likely to rise, so be quick.
Expedia travel expert Lisa Perkovic said Australians also want to explore foreign shores, with Fiji and Bali the most popular overseas destinations for summer travelers.
If you’re planning to go abroad, she said you should book at least two to three months in advance, depending on your destination.
“Looking ahead to the summer, airlines are constantly expanding their flight capacity and adjusting their flight capacity according to demand,” said Ms. Perkovic.
“Our tip is to keep an eye on the flight tickets – if you don’t immediately find something that suits you, be sure to come back, as more flights will probably be added.”