Holiday travel: To peak or not to peak?

The school holiday period is well under way and with it have come long airport queues, crowds and high prices.

Travelling during peak times is expensive and often frustrating.

Flight costs skyrocket during school holiday periods, yet for many Australian families it’s the most convenient time to take a break.

The price of a one-way flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast was $667 on Monday, September 18 – the official first day of the Victorian school holidays. But it drops to less than half that ($284) for those who are able to travel on Monday, October 2, the day Victorian kids go back to school.

“Some people are tied to school holidays and obviously cannot travel at any other time. But if people are able to travel outside of peak times like school holidays, major holidays Christmas, Easter and major events they could certainly have access to better fares and rates,” Gippsland Travel’s Jacquey Turner said.

For those with no other choice but to holiday during the peak time, Turner suggests booking early.

“The closer you get to booking near your travel dates, there’s no doubt that rates and airfares increase,” she said.

And if you have no alternative, you’ll be pleased to hear there are some upsides to travelling during peak times.

It’s usually when the weather is at its best – think Europe’s summer – and more attractions are available. Many tourist operators close during off-peak times, particularly the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring.

There’s also a definite sense of excitement when travelling during the popular seasons, said Brett Mitchell, managing director Australia New Zealand at Intrepid Travel.

“There’s something undeniably energetic when a destination is bustling with excitement, plus more tourist attractions are open during peak season, meaning more opportunities for sightseeing and adventure,” he said.

Travel prices are pushing people away from holidays. Photo: Getty

However, travel is quickly becoming out of reach for many Australians. Rising living costs mean holidays, whether at peak time or shoulder, have gone on hold for some – with a Finder survey revealing travelling abroad has become unaffordable for 37 per cent of Australians.

Of the 1079 respondents, 23 per cent said travelling overseas was almost out of reach.

There were 1,523,950 overseas departures from Australia in August – a monthly decrease of 196,230 trips, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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