How to find a winter sun bargain

72252154  (Royalty-free)Collection:  National GeographicPhotographer:  James ForteGrand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Caribbean Beach

The long dark nights and chilly days are just around the corner, and many Brits will already be feeling the winter cold. If that sounds like you, why not think about a winter sun holiday? We check out when and where to go if you want to bag a bargain break.

When to go
As a general rule, the cheapest winter sun holidays, both long and short haul, are on offer before the Christmas and New Year rush, so travelling any time up to mid-December is when you'll find the best deals. Demand is usually pretty low at this time of year and so operators will be keen to get seats and hotel rooms filled. Departing straight after New Year could also prove a good idea. Though hotels and tour operators will often try to get you to book early for that particular time of year, the prices are likely to drop as the departure date nears, so you're best off playing the last-minute game provided you're not too fussed about dates and destinations.

Where to go
In general you'll need to go further afield to reach the heat and sunshine, for obvious reasons. Reasonably close to home though, the Canary Islands and Cyprus promise decent temperatures throughout November and December. North Africa also offers reliability on the sunshine front, with Morocco and Egypt usually host to the best deals.

Further afield, December to April is the high season for Caribbean destinations, and as such you may struggle to get a bargain. Instead, consider an overnight flight to Cape Town in South Africa, where summer will be in full swing but the prices won't hit those of the Caribbean paradise islands. Florida is a great family winter sun destination, with the theme parks and temperatures in the mid-70s until around April. Finally, a recent survey by found that the cheapest winter sun flights throughout November are to Dubai. Just remember to factor in the cost of hotels and spending while you're there.

Where to find the best deals
The major tour operators already have some great offers to tempt Brits to winter sun destinations. For example, at Thomas Cook you could get as much as 50 percent off breaks in Turkey, Egypt and even Jamaica, and there are some stunning all inclusive holidays available, including seven nights in Tunisia for as little as £177 per person, though availability is limited so you'll need to snap them up quick.

Thomson also have some low-priced deals, including seven nights in Tunisia in January from around £200 per person, while you could save as much as £300 on breaks if you depart in November or December.

Price comparison sites have been a huge help to travellers in recent years, and it's a good idea to check out two or three sites to see where the best deals are. If you have specific dates and destinations in mind, the likes of Skyscanner, Travel Supermarket and Kayak are worth looking at, but if you're flexible as to where or when you want to go, try Momondo's Flight Insight, which will show you the best bargains available so you can simply pick the cheapest.

And remember, when it comes to booking through a tour operator, don't be afraid to haggle, particularly if you plan to travel in the quieter months like, as previously mentioned, from November through to mid-December. It's a competitive market out there, so make use of it to get a discount.

Do you regularly escape Britain for a winter sun holiday? What tips have you got for finding a bargain? Leave your comments below...
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