Man in sunglasses sunbathing in swimming pool

Sunshine Saturday is the most popular day of the year to book a holiday (Image: Getty)

Sunshine Saturday is traditionally the most popular day of the year to book a trip away, as prospective holidaymakers yearn for some warm sun on a cold winter’s weekend. 

It’s also a great day to snag a bargain, but with the hundreds on offer it can be slightly overwhelming.

Whilst it may be tempting to jump straight into booking the first offer you see, failing to prepare could prepare you for failure.

Raphael Giacardi, head of editorial at travel deals platform, HolidayPirates, has shared the top tips from his team of travel experts to help you navigate the January travel sales to help you secure the best possible offers.

Think ahead

It is best to approach booking a holiday on Sunshine Saturday with a clear idea of what you are looking for – the destination, itineraries, travel and period are all key things to consider.

READ MORE: ‘Secure better deals’ by booking the cheapest times to go on holiday in 2024

Airplane flying above clouds during sunset

Planning ahead can help you secure the best holiday deals (Image: Getty)

Then it is worth thinking about if you have a specific company or airline you would like to use, or if you have a favourite hotel chain you’d like to stay with. Working out what you actually want to book in advance will help you get a feel for prices, which can serve as a solid foundation to your holiday-hunting on Sunshine Saturday.

You want to make sure you’re getting a real deal, and not just getting influenced by fancy-looking discount claims.

Sign up for relevant newsletters

If you aren’t subscribed to newsletters from your favourite brands, you might be missing out on some great deals as some companies release their deals to email subscribers before they do to the general public – and occasionally offer additional discounts.

By identifying brands you want to keep track of, signing up for all relevant newsletters might help you clinch the best deals or most popular dates before they sell out.

Use social media to your advantage

Whilst newsletters are great, don’t limit yourself to them as your one and only source of discounts and deals – follow the brands you’re interested in on social media.

Woman with suitcase and passport

Make sure to spend time searching around for the best deals (Image: Getty)

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These channels are great ways to hear about the best promotions and sales first. It is worth mentioning you don’t have to follow these brands forever, if you don’t like their content you can always unfollow them later.

Do your homework

As previously mentioned, it can be tempting to jump right in and book the first dazzling offer you see, but it is very important to always price-check before you buy – don’t just take a brand’s word as gospel.

If you are looking to purchase a package holiday, compare the prices for the same or similar holidays on a few different travel agents’ websites. For checking flights and hotels, price-comparison tools such as Kayak and Trivago are essential tools for your arsenal.

If you’re a savvy bargain hunter, you can also set up price alerts for flights on Google, Kayak and Skyskanner to help you see how specific fares evolve.

Be flexible

This particular point is applicable whenever you’re searching for a deal and not just exclusively for Sunshine Saturday.

Companies tend to offer the biggest discounts on products (destinations, dates, hotels) that still have lots of availability. It is in your best interest to be open-minded about when and where you travel, giving yourself a chance to pounce on the best offers.

Make the most of loyalty programmes

Joining a loyalty programme is like signing up for a newsletter, multiplied by ten. Much like emails, registration is often free – but you’ll likely need to surrender a bit more personal information.

In return, the exclusive offers should be better. There are too many loyalty programmes to list, but the majority of airlines and hotel chains will have one.

Read the T&Cs

It’s important to look closely before you book, as the devil is often in the details. Super discounts sometimes come with strings attached, so it pays to read the fine print.

What is the cancellation policy? Are there additional fees or restrictions you may have missed at first glance?

Be safe

It is not entirely uncommon for travel companies to go out of business, but we are fortunate enough to have robust schemes that protect travellers financially and ensure repatriation in case your travel agent goes out of business whilst you are abroad. The most important things to look out for are ATOL and ABTA protection.

Think beyond travel

Securing a cheap holiday or bargain flights is the ultimate end goal on Sunshine Saturday, but you can find discounts on a lot more. Look out for deals on an annual travel insurance policy, or take advantage of the optimum time to purchase some specialised snow or water sports gear. If you’re feeling extra frivolous, consider renewing your holiday wardrobe entirely. 

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