Why you should book a summer holiday before England's World Cup semi-final

Simon Calder
Mallorca package holidays are going cheap: Getty

Airlines and holiday companies have never seen a July like it. In a desperate bid to get passengers on board, they are slashing prices for departures in the coming weeks.

Normally when July begins, the holiday firms know they can sell almost everything at good prices. Since late June sales have slumped – with a double-digit drop since the team qualified for the semi-final, aided by the heatwave. Because there are hundreds of thousands of unsold holidays still available, package prices and air fares have been tumbling at a time when they should be soaring.

But were Gareth Southgate’s team unfortunately to lose against Croatia in the semi-final in Moscow this evening, travel firms are eagerly awaiting a surge in bookings – whereupon prices will promptly rise. So lock into a bargain now.

What sort of holiday deals are available?

Prices you would normally only seen as last-minute deals in May or October are currently being advertised. Thomas Cook has a week’s self-catering from Bristol to the Greek island of Zante, leaving on Monday 16 July, for just £221 per person. And it’s not just bargain basement, two-star self-catering: TUI is selling a week to the same island, departing from Luton next Tuesday 17 July, for £289. And that’s for a proper three-star beach hotel, with breakfast. In mid-July that’s a remarkable price.

None of these are flaky holidays with lots of extras through an obscure online travel agent; these are proper packages, and include flights with luggage, transfers and accommodation.

What about cheap flights?

In parallel with the holiday price slumps, there are plenty of cheap flights at the sorts of levels last seen in high summer in 1966. There are plenty of seats from Newcastle to Palma de Mallorca for £46 leaving tomorrow, including a return flight a week later. On the same dates, TUI has a flight-only deal under £50 from Bournemouth to Mallorca.

For travellers who prefer the mountains in summer, Ryanair has a week’s round trip from Stansted to Grenoble next Wednesday for £46 return.

Are there any long-haul holiday bargains?

TUI is selling a week’s fly-drive in Florida for an almost unprecedented £507, based on two people travelling together and staying in self-catering accommodation, flying from Birmingham to Orlando on Thursday 12 July. And if you want to take the really long haul to Australia, there are plenty of seats from Heathrow to Sydney tonight or tomorrow for around £1,000 return.

What about cruise deals?

Cruise lines are even keener than the rest of the travel industry to fill all available capacity. For departure from Southampton on Sunday 22 July, the starting weekend of the school holidays for many families in England, P&O Cruises is selling a week’s cruise to the marvellous Norwegian fjords aboard Britannia for £849 – including all meals. Just don’t mention how little you paid to people who booked much earlier at normal summer prices.