Avoid peak season prices by booking now, says Sarah Marshall.
September is something of a seasonal crossroads; while T-shirts and summer dresses are still flapping in wardrobes, our minds are slowly tuning into cosier themes.
The calendar date remains the same, but every year, Christmas seems to creep closer. And if you're toying with the idea of pulling crackers on the beach, now really is the time to plan a festive holiday.
According to flight search engine Skyscanner, the best time to book is 13 weeks in advance of December 25 - which is around about now.
Here are several important things to consider...
1. Avoid travelling on the big day
As you'd expect, travelling on Christmas Day is expensive. And who wants to open their presents up in the air, anyway? But if you're short on annual leave and need to work right up until the last minute, travelling on December 23 is a good option. Skyscanner claim prices are 16% cheaper than any other day during the festive period (December 16-31).
2. Consider Tenerife for affordable short-haul festive sun
There's no denying Christmas travel is expensive; with so many people trying to fly home to see family or escape the winter, this is peak season at it's peak. A good value option for a winter sun holiday is Tenerife, where flight prices are dropping around 30% year-on-year. Currently, Skyscanner has flights with Ryanair from Manchester for around £220 if you fly out on December 23 and return seven days later.
3. Argentina represents great value for a far-flung Christmas
For something more exotic, the best long-haul option is Buenos Aires, where summer will be in full swing at this time of year. Low cost airline Norwegian has revolutionised travel to South America, with affordable fares making shorter trips a viable option. Flights currently start from around £400 each way.
4. Choose dates wisely
One of the busiest days to fly is the Friday before Christmas - so if you want to avoid long queues at check-in, consider choosing another date. According to Skyscanner, December 16 is the quietest day. Swapping weekends for weekday travel is also a good idea.
5. Packages guarantee good deals
Even if you do manage to bag a bargain flight, hotel accommodation can be pricey - especially on Christmas Day. One way around this is to book a package holiday with hotel and flights included. TUI (tui.co.uk) currently has a seven-night holiday to the SENSIMAR Medina Gardens in Marrakech from £723pp, departing Birmingham on December 20. A cruise is another all-inclusive option. P&O (pocruises.com) has a 10-night Baltic cruise departing Southampton on December 19, from £999pp.