Is it possible to beat winter heating bills by taking a long off-peak sun holiday?

Instead of paying high electricity bills in Ireland this winter, how about turning off the heat and going on an extended holiday?

That was the suggestion from an Irish travel agent last week, who lumped the figures together to suggest pensioners or long-distance workers could save on bills and enjoy winter fun in the sun by booking a holiday of three weeks or more.

“We’ve had a lot of clients who have booked winter holidays because it’s cheaper to holiday in Spain in a four-star hotel than to heat their homes in Ireland,” said Paul Hackett

“My own parents are going away for four weeks in January after doing the math.”

The best deals are in the Algarve, mainland Spain and Malta from November to March, says Hackett.

The packages include flights and a three-week stay with half board in a four-star hotel in Fuengirola from €869 pp, Benalmádena from €949 pp or Torremolinos from €979 pp.

That’s just over €40 a day for B&B and dinner, and the cost of living and eating out abroad can also be cheaper.

“Many people have already made the decision to stay abroad for a few weeks to avoid the cost of living in Ireland,” Hackett claims.

Other offers include a special offer for over 50s to the Costa del Sol from John Galligan Travel (€878 per person for three weeks, based on two studio apartments sharing) and 21 nights in Tenerife in November from TUI (prices from €1,215 € per person for everyone – including stay at the three-star Hotel Catalonia Punta del Rey).

Belfast’s Atlantic Travel, meanwhile, says it has a whopping seven weeks (49 nights) in Lanzarote from £980 per person, based on travel from 17 January to 7 March.

The package listed on the Irish Travel Agents’ Association special offers page, flights from Belfast International and a one bedroom apartment on a self catering basis at the LABRANDA Playa Club Apartments in Puerto del Carmen.

It’s clear that jumping in the sun to beat the bills isn’t a strategy for everyone (if it were, there wouldn’t be any deals). For many, school and face-to-face work rule out long journeys. Winter snowbirds should also ensure their travel and medical insurance are adequate, and have realistic expectations of the weather, facilities and atmosphere of the off-season resorts.

However, Andalucia or the Algarve will definitely be warmer (and cheaper) than Ireland in the coming months.

Flexibility is a true superpower in post-pandemic travel – those flying off-peak can take advantage of lower fares, avoid the queues and chaos of busy times, choose their accommodation and even use long layovers as leverage to ask for something Discounts on rentals, resorts or Airbnbs.

There’s a continuous line here from the pandemic, when destinations like the Azores and Croatia introduced visas for “digital nomads” and longer trips were dubbed a post-Covid trend.

This month Thailand ended its Covid travel restrictions while extending its visa waiver for visitors from the US and Europe from 30 to 45 days.

It remains to be seen how remote and hybrid work evolve, but stays of a month or more now make up 20 percent of Airbnb’s business, off-season stays are clearly attractive to destinations, and there’s a notable number of long-term winter deals.

In Scotland, Ayrshire based Thorne Travel have ‘Beat the Gas Bill’ deals including a 35 night stay in Fuerteventura from £1,200 (€1,378). In Hertfordshire, TravelTime World chose ‘The Heat is On’, while in the Algarve, Golden Club Cabanas says prices are as low as €19 per night for stays of 21 days or more between October and May.

“Water, gas and electricity included,” it says. Is it possible to beat winter heating bills by taking a long off-peak sun holiday?

Fry Electronics Team

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