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Q I’m hoping to go on holiday with my wife and four-year-old son to Tenerife between 26 December and 2 January. Could you kindly advise when it’s the best to buy flight tickets and book hotels?
A Delighted to hear about your plan: the Canaries are as far south as the resorts of Florida but much easier to reach, especially with a four-year-old.
The main concern is that over Christmas and new year, the islands are extremely popular with families, and prices are commensurately high.
To answer your question directly: it may be that, if you wait until a couple of days before Christmas, you will be able to snap up a bargain. But given that you are a family of three, I would not take that chance. So now is the time to book, because the amount of choice is diminishing by the day.
Just looking at flights: the cheapest no-frills return from anywhere in the UK to Tenerife on the days you want to travel come to £1,083 – on Ryanair from Stansted, with baggage on top of that.
It’s good that you want to spend a week away, because that means you will be able to buy an off-the-peg package holiday – conferring lots of consumer protection as well as reasonably good value.
For a guide to typical prices, I have focused on Tui – the biggest holiday company in Europe, with a wide range of flights and accommodation options between the UK and the Canaries. All the prices are for the three of you, and include flights (with baggage), transfers and accommodation.
The cheapest deal on 26 December from the UK to Tenerife is £2,037 from Norwich, including self-catering accommodation at the Tamaimo Tropical in Puerto de Santiago. Personally I would spend an extra £100 or so on a stay in the lovely resort of Puerto de la Cruz.
Were you prepared to travel on Christmas Day itself, there is a very good-value deal from Birmingham. But the southbound flight leaves at 10.40am, which means you won’t get any significant time with wider family on 25 December. It costs £1,600 including self-catering accommodation at the Tamaimo Tropical in Puerto de Santiago. There is only one room left, so I suggest you grab it now if that appeals.
Finally, if you prefer to fly from the London area and are prepared to contemplate a different island, I urge you to consider Lanzarote. Flying out from Gatwick on the afternoon of Boxing Day, with decent timings coming back on 2 January, the total is £1,756 including accommodation at the Lanzarote Paradise Club. That is the one I would choose.
Every day our travel correspondent Simon Calder tackles a reader’s question. Just email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @simoncalder