Stress-free and fun-packed! Discover our top 5 to thriving these summer holidays with industry know-how and special offers from the specialists at Flight Centre.

Just the hint of a warm breeze and we’re swept to Catalan’s capital, the blazing heat of Barcelona and dreaming of days sipping away at sunset. And, while Australia boasts one of the world’s most enviable summers, the globe opens itself up to a host of cultural happenings and languid landscapes ready to explore.
 
The catch? Travelling in peak times, particularly with the family, can often lead to stress, regret and hiked prices. To alleviate the chaos these holidays, we caught spoke with the experts at Flight Centre to uncover everything summer planning, from the hotspots, latest know-how and the safest way to protect your purchases.

1. Where is making the coveted hotlist this summer? 

David Burt, Manager at Flight Centre MLC Centre, says we can expect to see package holidays in Fiji, Bali and Vietnam reign as three of the hottest destinations for Australians this summer. Cruises out of Sydney and Florida are also increasingly climbing the list, with the total number of Australian cruise-goers more than quadrupling since 2008.
 
Holiday planners take note: cruising’s popularity is due largely in part to the wealth of sales and discounts designed to bring in passengers. With careful planning, you could set sail with huge savings thanks to early-bird deals and all-inclusive packages. Check out more here.
 
2. What is the ideal planning window?

Booking in advance can often result in double-figure percentage discounts  but just how early is early? David Burt says ideally it is best to secure your plans and book before the end of September, if possible, ahead of the summer demand.
 
For those confident that a last-minute deal will come through to undo the perks forward planning, David suggests the Flight Centre Captain's Packages Details which offers ‘Price Drop Protection’ from only $19.00. With airfares changing almost daily, you’ll be protected in the case your airfare drops in price before your departure date, and receive the difference back in a voucher.
 
3. Best options to save and splurge? 


Summer vacations come in all shapes and sizes. With the kids out of school and days to fill, budgets are in full force when planning your holiday. For a family trip on a budget, we asked David his recommendations for a five-day escape under $3,000. His top tips? Moreton Island, Noumea or Vanuatu all ranked highly.
 
For those who have racked up the annual leave and after a few extra days of pure indulgence, David’s top splurge recommendations include Tahiti or a trip to Walt Disney World, with a ski trip to Japan reigning number one.
 
4. Knowing what and where to avoid:

They say timing is everything and it’s never been truer than with summer holidays. While our December-February holidays correspond to the ‘off-season’ for much of the northern hemisphere – yes, those gondolas through Venice may not be as draining on the purse strings as you once thought! – it is also critical to research wet seasons, steep airfares and overcrowding. 
 
David Burt says Thailand should be met with some caution during our summer holiday period. Over these months, Thailand attracts high airfares (fares often exceeding $2,000 return) and November experiences high rainfall, particularly in the South East.
 
The pick of the pack: Flight Centre top deals 

While we’re envisioning summer holidays clad with Mai Tais, Tahitian sunsets and bikini lines, David says these months from December to February are also a wonderful window to explore Europe. The European Christmas Markets are legendary; Cologne shines as the Cathedral Capital of markets, while Brussels' Christmas markets are Belgium's biggest and brightest. Flight Centre is currently on sale with its 8-Day German Christmas Markets tour from $1,845* per person – a saving of $150 and available for 9 months interest free so you can book now and rug up later!
 
If the chill of Europe doesn’t hit the travel palate, David says there’s also plenty of fantastic deals on offer for river cruising with Viking Cruises and tour companies including APT, Scenic Tours and Uniworld.