It was great while it lasted, but it is safe to say the UK summer is well and truly over. It’s not all bad news – the return to school means cheaper holidays for the rest of us. This really is the perfect time to grab yourself some autumn sunshine at a bargain price. Gareth Scurlock explains why September and October are superb months to escape for some guaranteed sun.
It was a less than successful summer for many travel agents, with demand down because the weather was so good in the UK. That stay at home Olympics feelgood factor last year gave way to memories of a summer where the London Games were the only highlight to keep our heads above rainwater. So there were expectations in the travel industry that there would be bumper demand. However, the longer the heatwave went on the quieter the high street and online travel agents got. Things are looking up, however.
After temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius-plus across the UK for nearly two months, the usual September temperatures of sub-20C and much closer to 10 degrees seem positively chilly, reminding us that we could be in for another record-breakingly cold winter.
But fear not, the kids have gone back to school and that can only mean one thing – the summer peak prices are a distant memory and there are thousands of superb late summer sun bargains to be had in places such as Greece, Croatia, Turkey and southern Spain, where the mercury is unlikely to dip below 20C until November.
What more reason do you need to escape the on-rushing winter blues by booking a last-minute break where the sun is almost guaranteed to still be shining for the next six weeks? If you are still undecided here are the top ten reasons to head south for sun in September or October.
1. Cheap packages
Holidays in September after the school term start date drop in price dramatically. There’s a further drop off in prices in October as people start to worry about the Med weather despite there being a superb climate in many of the most popular destinations.
Holiday packages in popular Mediterranean destinations can reach well in excess of £1,000 per person, room only, in the peak season for a 4-star hotel and flights. Expect that to halve as September draws on. You can find some of the best late summer deals on our lastminute calendar.
2. Fewer kids
For those lucky enough to not have kids in tow, it’s a joy planning for a holiday during term time when you know there will be less little critters around to ruin the tranquillity on your beach of choice. Online agencies and tour operators have stood up and listened – many now offer affordable and high-end adult-only resorts to cater for people like you.
If your view of kids is that they should be seen but not heard, or even that they should be not seen and not heard, then it’s worth going for an adults only – which doesn’t mean there are shady ‘adult’ activities going on, it means that if you really can’t stand to be in the company of children while on holiday you can guarantee that your hotel and their surrounds will not have any pesky kids bouncing around.
Do make sure however that the adult only hotel doesn’t mean children at a minimum age are allowed, for example some may stipulate no under-12s while also calling it an adults only resort.
3. Perfect temperatures for us Brits
Not many of us are not sun worshippers – otherwise there wouldn’t be such a furore about a heatwave back in the United of Kingdom. Nearly all of us look forward to summer and crave guaranteed sunshine on our time off, which is one of the main reasons we head overseas in the first place.
Heading towards the sunlight is all well and good but wake up people – the Mediterranean in July and August is usually just unbearably hot. We are just not programmed for it, most pasty northern Europeans start to complain that the low 20s celsius is getting a bit hot, let alone 40 degrees. Let’s not even get on to the topic of the London Underground’s Central Line during a heatwave – many of us normal human beings come off dripping in sweat after five minutes.
4. More exotic and luxurious holidays for the same price
You don’t have to restrict your holiday search to the Med when looking for late summer sun – one of the best things about the kids going back to school is prices on seemingly unattainable long haul holidays can also drop considerably.
Be careful to choose somewhere that has a good climate – I recently found an all-inclusive fortnight in a highly rated 3-star hotel in Mauritius for £1,100 per person – not bad at all for somewhere known for exclusivity that also has an excellent climate that time of year and includes food and drinks for two whole weeks.
5. Increased choice
Despite there being less clamour for holidays outside of July and August, there are resorts across the Med and further afield looking for business for a much longer summer window.
Bringing in business outside the peak months will help support the local industry and mean that more hotels are willing to stay open in case it stays busy enough, ensuring that there is more choice for all.
So start looking around – there’s bound to be much more availability than in the peak summer months even if some hotels close. Get out there and see what’s about – hotels in southern Spain, Croatia and the Greek islands stay open until at least the end of October while places like Tunisia are year-round destinations.
6. Smaller buffet queues
This won’t apply to everyone. Many of us prefer not to go all-inclusive but in these credit crunch times it can make things more cost effective and may help justify an extra holiday each year by saving on what you spend while in the resort.
Probably the biggest drawback of the all-inclusive holibob is the buffet food. But get there early – if the hotel isn’t very busy you don’t want to be rocking up late and helping yourself to food out of trays that have been kept warm under lights for a couple of hours.
7. The weather at home is getting grim
Across the country we’re all getting a bit miserable – not only is one of the best summers in living memory over, the autumn has arrived with a bump.
Temperatures are down to 10-15 Celsius, the rain keeps sweeping across the country in waves and there’s a general damp and cold feel that is starting to see work absences shoot up as people’s immune systems struggle to cope with the change in weather. The first bouts of cold and flu of the winter have arrived with a vengeance.
There’s one easy way out of this – book a sunny break and jump on a plane to escape the misery.
8. Bragging rights
Everyone in the office is back in the post-summer work routine drudgery and guess what – they are well peeved because you are off to the tropics.
Even if you are not the type of person to gloat or show off about your holidays, take a moment to consider those in your office or place of work who came back from their expensive summer holiday ranting about the superb weather and not caring that you had to work extra hard to cover for them.
Well now it’s payback time – tell them all about your trip and increase their damp and soggy solemnity.
9. Quieter beaches and planes
Two of the many things that can really rankle when we book and pay for an expensive holiday are arriving in your resort only to find a packed beach that’s definitely not brochure-like, and queuing for a packed plane with scrums to get to seats.
Well, guess what? Outside of the peak season there’s a much better chance that neither of those eventualities will occur. For starters, you are more likely to get lucky with a flight that’s not full and so can jet off to that glorious Greek island or tranquil Turkish haven with a choice of seats and maybe even a spare one next to you.
When you get to your destination there’s a much better chance that you will have the beach to yourself, or at least a choice of places to lay down your towel. It’s a game of chance of course, but you have a much better chance if you head off into the sunset after the July and August rush.
10. You may actually look forward to Christmas
Even the biggest Yuletide party pooper can’t help but enjoy it a little bit when it’s a choice between time off work, better food, better telly and presents or continuing to work all hours right up through the dark midwinter.
However, if like me you are fed up with the battle of the advertisers putting out Xmas adverts earlier and earlier each year then having a little holiday before it all starts can help no end with coping with the inevitable commercialisation of the midwinter pagan festival (sorry – celebration of the birth of JC).
By the time you get back you will find early Christmas adverts less annoying and can look forward to summer 2014, while those who actually enjoy watching the Spice Girls or whoever the new kid on the boy/girl band block is turning on the Christmas lights before the clocks have had a chance to go back can have that annoying event all to themselves.
Why not be inspired by your early autumn break and spend your time shopping for next year’s holiday to take your mind off of it all? Alternatively, start saving for some winter sun and escape the Christmas shenanigans altogether.
There you have it – 10 brilliant reasons to book some late summer sun. So start searching on the Directline Holidays website and make sure you are enjoying some hot autumn sunshine before it’s too late.