Travel Insurance

How Much Do You Really Save by Booking Your Vacation Early?

Planning a budget-friendly trip can be difficult due to the many factors that can suddenly affect airfare and hotel prices. Read on to find out when to book your next vacation to get the most savings.

Getting a great deal on your holiday is difficult, especially when airlines and hotels seemingly change their pricing at whim. Conventional wisdom maintains that the best time to book your trip is around 2-3 months in advance—however, is this always the case? Also, does travelling during Singapore's long weekends cost more? To get to the answers, we examined hotel and airfare pricing for some of the most popular holiday destinations for Singaporeans to find out the best time to book your vacation.

Book Your Flight Early, But Be Aware of the Consequences

Our data found that airfare for almost all of the destinations is cheaper when you book 3-6 months before departure. Not only that, last minute bookers will end up paying over 2.5x as much for a roundtrip ticket for regional destinations (Bali, Bangkok), around 80% more for further destinations in Asia and up to 25% more for destinations in Europe compared to those who book 3-6 months out.

This graph shows the average cost of airfare purchased a week before travel compared to airfare purchased 6 months before travel

However, booking your trip very far in advance can also have its own drawbacks. For example, airlines will sometimes have flash sales closer to your departure date as they try to reduce inventory and fill as many seats as possible. Additionally, booking too far out in advance may be risky since you never know what can happen in the future. In the past year, we saw a number of events that have severely affected travellers who had their trip planned out months in advance, whether it was the volcano eruption in Bali or the sudden closure of beaches in Thailand and the Philippines. While travellers affected by these types of events were fully covered by their travel insurance, those who encounter other non-emergency medical, political or climate related events will have to bear the full cost of cancellation even if they purchased travel insurance in advance.

No Need to Book Hotels 3 Months in Advance

In contrast to flights, it seems that hotel bookings don't change much in price even for the early birds who are willing to book early for great deals. Our research found that hotels have more predictable pricing schemes than airlines and either maintain similar pricing year-round or change their prices slightly depending on the popularity of the season. In most cases, you can expect prices to increase up to around 20-35% during peak tourist seasons.

For instance, the average hotel price in Tokyo in June is around S$191, whereas the fall season (mid-november)—which is second in popularity only to cherry blossom season—has an average hotel price of S$231.

This graph shows the difference in pricing per night between booking a hotel last minute as opposed to 6 months in advance

Buy Your Travel Insurance Before Your Trip

When it comes to buying a travel insurance policy in Singapore, timing doesn't matter as long as you purchase before your departure date. Generally, your premium will depend on how far away you're travelling and how long your trip is, not when the trip occurs. However, it is advisable to get travel insurance in advance of booking your trip to take advantage of any pre-trip coverage they may offer. For example, natural disasters that directly affect your itinerary may be fully covered and reimbursed if you bought your travel insurance ahead of time.

this chart compares the average cost of travel insurance for all insurers in Singapore. We compare different insurance policies by destination and the length of the trip.

Travel insurance is also where you don't want to skimp too much on costs as it can provide life-saving coverage not just for you but for your travel companions as well. Besides covering for trip cancellations, delayed flights or lost luggages, travel insurance will be able to help you cover the cost of medical emergencies and pay for repatriation to Singapore if need be—a life-saving feature especially for those visiting places with expensive or lackluster medical system. If you can take advantage of great promotions, you can get a great policy for just S$33 for a long weekend trip.

Best Travel Insurance Plans For Your Consideration

Etiqa Tiq

Consider this if you have pre-existing medical conditions
  • Personal Accident Coverage
    • S$30,000-S$500,000
    • Trip Delay Coverage
      • S$300-S$500
      • Baggage Delay Coverage
        • S$200
        Use code TEIF for discount
        Premium and valueEntrySavvyLuxury
        Personal Accident and DeathS$200,000S$250,000S$300,000
        Medical Expenses Incurred OverseasS$200,000S$500,000S$1,000,000
        Emergency Medical & RepatriationCombined limit up to $1,000,000Combined limit up to $1,500,000Combined limit up to $1,800,000
        Trip Cancellation and Loss of DepositS$5,000S$5,000S$10,000
        Trip DelaysS$300 ($50 per 3hrs)S$300 ($50 per 3hrs)S$500 ($50 per 3hrs)
        Baggage DelayS$200 ($100 per 6hrs)S$200 ($100 per 6hrs)S$200 ($100 per 6hrs)
        Premium and valueEntrySavvyLuxury
        Trip Cancellation and Loss of Deposit due to Covid-19S$3,000S$4,000S$5,000
        Travel Postponement due to Covid-19S$500S$1,000S$1,500
        Trip Curtailment and Disruption due to Covid-19S$3,000S$4,000S$5,000
        Medical Expenses Incurred Overseas due to Covid-19S$100,000S$200,000S$300,000
        Overseas Covid-19 Diagnosis Quarantine AllowanceS$500S$1,000S$1,500
        Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains due to Covid-19S$200,000S$300,000S$500,000
        Hospitalisation Benefit in Singapore due to Covid-19S$100S$200S$300
        Etiqa Tiq Pre-Ex plans provide comprehensive coverage against medical expenses if you fall sick during your trip due to pre-existing medical conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions include diabetes, eczema, asthma, heart conditions, stroke, asthma, sleep apnea, cancer and epilepsy. However, do note that your illness must be stable and under control. If you are looking for an affordable yet comprehensive plan to protect against medical treatment due to pre-existing conditions, you can consider Etiqa Tiq's Pre-Ex policies.

        Income Travel Insurance (Standard Plan)

        PROMO: Get 40% off single-trip policies
        Consider this if you want protection against unexpected Covid-19 expenses
        • Personal Accident Coverage
          • S$150,000-S$500,000
          • Trip Delay Coverage
            • S$1,000 to S$2,000
            • Baggage Delay Coverage
              • S$1,000 to S$2,000
              Premium and valueClassicDeluxePreferred
              Personal AccidentS$150,000S$200,000S$500,000
              Medical expenses overseasS$250,000S$500,000S$1,000,000
              Emergency Medical evacuationS$500,000UnlmtdUnlmtd
              Trip CancellationS$5,000S$10,000S$15,000
              Trip DisruptionS$3,000S$5,000S$8,000
              Baggage Loss DamageS$3,000S$5,000S$8,000
              Baggage DelayS$1,000S$1,200S$2,000
              Features (For all premiums)Extension
              Cancelling your trip due to COVID-19S$2,000
              Postponing your trip due to COVID-19S$2,000
              Shortening your trip due to COVID-19S$2,000
              Trip disruption due to COVID-19S$2,000
              Medical expenses overseas due to COVID-19S$150,000
              Emergency medical evacuation and sending you home due to COVID-19S$150,000
              Overseas quarantine allowance due to COVID-19S$1,400
              With Covid-19, it is even more crucial to protect yourself in such unprecedented times. Income travel insurance offers protection against unexpected Covid-19 emergencies. Some examples include cancelling your trip, overseas quarantine allowance, and medical expenses due to Covid-19. All per trip and yearly plans will automatically include the following COVID-19 benefits. Travellers can enjoy COVID-19 benefits for the first 90 days of each trip for Standard per-trip policies.

              So When Is the Best Time to Book Your Trip?

              Unfortunately, there's no concrete formula that can help you make sure you book the at lowest price possible. However, there are some guidelines that may help you save up to S$400 on your next trip. First, booking in advance is definitely your best bet for saving money on airfare. You should aim to book a trip between 3 and 6 months and try to avoid flying during Singapore's long weekends if you are flying regionally. Additionally, consider alternatives to peak tourist seasons at your destination and stay at less tourist-trodden cities. This will not only help save you money, but also give you an opportunity to explore a city that you may otherwise have never experienced.

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              Tan Boon Hun

              Boon Hun spent over five years in the content marketing space as the managing editor of Goody Feed creating interesting and relevant content for the social media generation. In 2022, he moved to the FinTech space while remaining true to his roots, intending to bring financial literacy to more people in Singapore. When not doing his work, he can be found watching people build homes on YouTube.

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