European winter holiday deals

With more than half the year already behind us, it is time to start thinking ahead and planning December getaways. For some an overseas trip is a dream that they may never achieve. However, while December is the peak summer holiday period in South Africa, in some parts of the northern hemisphere it is off season due to it being winter time.

Now is the perfect time to find good deals on overseas trips if you are willing to leave the South African summer sun behind and face the cooler temperatures abroad. This week Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood, looks at what international travel deals are on offer.


Contiki current has a special on its 2015/2016 Europe Winter programme, with prices up to 14% cheaper than the equivalent summer packages. The winter programme offers 44 trips ranging from three to 25 days from October 2015 to April 2016. The trips on offer will allow you to view the sights and sounds of not only Europe, but Morocco and Egypt as well.

“Contiki’s autumn, winter and spring holidays provide travellers the best possible experiences at the best value. There are less crowds giving our travellers more room to explore the sites we visit. It’s cheaper, plus we offer amazing activities like ice-skating underneath the Eiffel Tower or skiing/boarding on some of the best mountains that are just not possible during summer,” explained Kelly Jackson, general manager for Contiki.

Contiki trips are only available to those between the ages of 18 and 35. The trips on offer include:

  • 18 Discovery Plus trips ranging from eight to 25 days.
  • Seven In-Depth Explorer trips ranging from five to 20 days.
  • Ten Easy Pace trips ranging from five to 19 days.
  • Seven Festivals and Short Stays trips ranging from three to seven days.
  • Two Winter and Ski trips ranging from eight to 16 days.

For a list of all the winter Europe trips on offer at Contiki, click here.

In addition to these trips, Contiki also offers last minute deals, where travellers can find good deals on overseas packages at the last minute.

Among those on offer at the moment are an 11 day trip from Amsterdam to Barcelona for R19 524 departing on 4 September 2015*. It was previously priced at R24 405, meaning that you can R4 881. But you better hurry, as bookings are subject to availability and you have to book before 3 August.

To see all the last minute deals available, click here.

For more information on the packages available, visit the Contiki website, or call 011 280 8400.

*Accurate as of 29 July 2015.


Contiki isn’t the only company offering good prices for Winter 2015/2016 travel packages. For example, Trafalgar is offering a seven day jewels of Italy winter 2015/2016 trip from R10 915 per person. This deal is available from November 2015 to March 2016. The 1 November departure for this trip has been reduced from the original price of R11 800 to R10 915 per person.

For a list of the 2015/2016 off-peak seasonal holidays available at Trafalgar, click here.

In addition to these off-peak packages, Trafalgar also offers early payment discounts on some of their packages. Among the latest discounts are Europe and Britain 2016 preview trips where you can save up to ten percent if you book by 29 January 2016. According to Trafalgar, that is a saving of up to R7 000 per person.

Insight Vacations

Another company that offers last minute deals on travel packages is in Insight Vacations. The company current has deals available on its Europe autumn, winter and spring 2015/2016 packages.

The website noted: “The seasons of autumn, winter and spring are a special time for a vacation to Europe. Countries celebrate the changing seasons with captivating traditions, enticing delicacies and joyful festivals plus prices can be up to 31% less expensive than in summer.”

You can save up to 7.5% on some of the autumn, winter and spring Europe 2015/2016 packages if you pay before 31 August 2015. Among the winter deals is the Christmas Markets of Germany, Austria and Italy, leaving on 29 November and returning 5 December for R21 599 per person. This is a saving of R1 751 from the original price of R23 350.

However, for those wanting to see Europe in the summer, there are also last minute deals that Insight Vacations offers on some of their packages. For example, the Best of Britain package departing on 7 August and returning on 15 August is now R25 500 per person, compared to the previous price of R31 880. That is a saving of R6 380**.

**The current deals on Insight Vacations are only available until 31 July 2015.


With some travel packages, such as Contiki, you are responsible for arranging and covering the cost of the flights to get you to and from the country where you will be travelling. This includes airport tax and any other expenses that may be associated with the flight.

While flights can be expensive, especially when flying overseas, airlines are often offering deals, and you get a better price for a ticket the earlier you book. Therefore it is important to shop around for a good price, and to not leave it too late to book your ticket.

Flight Centre has a number of offers on return flights from Johannesburg to London. From 1 September 2015 to 9 December 2015, if you book by 31 July, you can get an economy return flight Johannesburg to London from R8 550, subject to availability.

Another thing to keep in mind when booking overseas trips, is that most international flights in South Africa leave from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. You will therefore have to factor in travel to Johannesburg into your budget.

Going away for the holidays does not have to be overly expensive, if you take the time to look around for the best deals.

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