The Thrifty Travel Year: A Deal Hunter’s Itinerary for 2016
As a new year dawns, most of us are already thinking about what trips to take in 2016. But weary post-Christmas wallets can limit your choices.
That’s why Booking.com has created a pricing calendar to help travellers of all budgets find the best value-for-money destination for each month of the year.
To come up with these recommendations, Booking.com data specialists first looked at the average price per night of 4* accommodation in some of the most popular cities in the world. 
Then, to determine which cities to recommend for which month, they looked at the yearly overview of pricing fluctuations to determine the best weeks to stay in the chosen destinations.
These were not always the absolute cheapest week of the year (as that might have travellers caught in some pretty terrible weather!) but still had attractive pricing and temperatures compared to other weeks in the same city. And things like the city’s local events and holidays were also accounted for, as this can often affect an accommodation’s rates.
The result? A perfectly-priced itinerary of places to check off your travel bucket-list for 2016!
January – Melbourne
While spending Christmas in Australia is both surreal and wonderful, December weather can be a little unpredictable in Melbourne, so January is prime time to go. There’s also no better antidote to those European winter blues, but if you want to go at the most cost-effective time, go just before the Australian Open starts. In 2015, the second week of January was only $161 AUD, compared to $215 AUD and $217 AUD for the last two weeks respectively and 29% cheaper than Melbourne’s most expensive week all year.
February – Hong Kong
Though Hong Kong’s weather can be unpredictable, its dry and cool winter is largely filled with crisp, clear days that can be much more enjoyable than the city’s hot, sticky summers. And, as a city with a reputation as a shopping utopia, it’s worth noting that February is ideal for bargain-hunting since this is when most stores, malls and markets tend to offer great out-of-season sales. Furthermore, February is outside of the peak tourist season, so you’ll see friendlier accommodation rates. The second week of February 2015 was 976 HKD, 37% cheaper than the city’s most expensive week falling across New Year’s Eve. A fabulous month to enjoy this city and its breath-taking glittering skyline, Chinese New Year also often falls in February, as does the Spring Lantern Festival, where lanterns depicting mystical or auspicious creatures are lit and hung from trees all over the city.
March – Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is at its best in March, when it’s just turning into autumn but still warm enough not to need a jumper. At this time you’ll find an abundance of free events and street markets, in addition to the city’s year-round elegant and vibrant appeal. Expect a phenomenal and avant-garde culinary scene, from street food to fine dining and lots of incredible wine. Buenos Aires is also known as a hotbed of culture; take your pick from stunning churches, La Recoleta Cemetery or any number of galleries containing masterpieces by the likes of Frida Kahlo. The average cost of a stay in a 4* accommodation here during the first week of March 2015 was only 757 ARS, 30% cheaper than the city’s most expensive week all year.
April – San Francisco
April is one of the most inviting months to visit the hilly, historic and unique Californian city of San Francisco. The weather is fresh and sunny, with endless blue skies, mild temperatures and a dramatic and mesmerising sea fog frequently rolling in from the bay in the evening or at sunrise. Perfect weather for making the most of the city’s many attractions, such as catching the ferry across the bay to Alcatraz or walking along the incredible feat of engineering that is the Golden Gate Bridge. And April is ideal for beating the summer tourist rush and high season prices. The average price of a 4* accommodation during the first week of April 2015 was $207 USD, a hefty 50% cheaper than the city’s most expensive week.
May - London
London is never going to be cheap per se but there are certain periods that see sky-high accommodation rates ease off significantly. The week before the May bank holiday will always see a price hike but the following week tends to be cheaper. The first full week of May 2015 (after the May Day weekend) cost on average £150 per night, 25% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year, and a great time to visit weather-wise. For 2016, the May bank holiday falls on the 2nd May, so the weeks before and after will be the deal hunter’s best bet. And springtime in London is a real treat, as the city comes to life with sunshine and the beginning of the city’s outdoor events season.
June – Beijing
Just before Beijing’s oppressive summer heat hits, June sits on the cusp of the tourist season. Prices are still relatively low and the city not too crowded as there aren’t any big Chinese national holidays, plus the weather is hot but not unbearable. A chaotic but mesmerizing city, Beijing combines fascinating history and fast-paced modernity but places like the Summer Palace are perfect if you need to slow down. June 2015 saw reasonable rates compared to peak prices in October; the third week of June was 515 CNY, compared to the city’s most expensive week, which cost 587 CNY.
July – Sydney
Even though July is Sydney’s winter, the city’s subtropical climate means it is blessed with blue skies and pleasant temperatures even in its coldest months. And this time of year also boasts its lowest accommodation rates, the second week of July 2015 being only $164 AUD, 44% cheaper than the most expensive week. With plenty of sunshine and fewer tourists, July offers an array of cultural festivities.
August – New York
New York summers are notoriously hot and stuffy but towards the end of August, temperatures tend to drop to a pleasant degree. So at this time of year you can still enjoy the city’s summer vibes without the oppressive heat. Central Park’s SummerStage is just one such venue but outdoor concerts, theater performances and exhibitions crop up all over the city. The average price of a 4* accommodation for the fourth week of August 2015 was only $235, 39% cheaper than peak season in September.
September - Rome
Rome, like London, is rarely ‘cheap’. Not surprising, given its status as one of Europe’s most beautiful and romantic metropolises. But a good time to go to get more bang for your buck is September. Avoid August’s searing heat and Ferragosto (the traditional holiday which technically runs from August 15th until September and means many stores and restaurants are closed), and opt for the late summer temperatures and relaxed atmosphere of the following month. It’s also perfect for saving money and getting the most out of the city, as the first week of September 2015 saw the average price of a 4* accommodation per night (121 Euros) in Rome drop 29% from a peak in June.
October - Cape Town
Cape Town in spring is the city at its most brilliant for a number of reasons. By October, the local flora is bursting into bloom and visitors can enjoy mild, sunny weather. Temperatures hover around the mid-twenties and the days lengthen as the month goes on. Cape Town is a real outdoors city and this is the perfect season to revel in its natural surroundings; it’s the best time for whale watching and the views from Table Mountain are gloriously vivid. It’s also not high season, so hotel rates are still reasonable, with the first week of October 2015 only 1331 ZAR, 36% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year.
November – Rio de Janiero
Carnival in Rio may have its allure but as with Cape Town, spring brings sunshine, cheaper accommodation rates and fewer tourists. If you don’t mind missing the festival excitement, November means more space to sprawl out on Rio’s golden beaches and you won’t sacrifice any of the city’s appeal as a jaw-droppingly beautiful, musical, cultural and vivacious place. The first week of November was 405 BRL, 31% cheaper than Carnival week (591 BRL) and 37% cheaper than the year’s most expensive week (646 BRL), which fell over New Year’s Eve.
December – Las Vegas
For a fun-filled, thrilling getaway in the run up to Christmas, Las Vegas is fantastic. With renowned nightlife, a palpable party feel and endless shopping opportunities, December suits this city down to the ground. The third week of December 2014 was also 60% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year, with 4* accommodation rates as low as $84 USD per night.
 Pricing data was measured over the period of October 2014 to October 2015. 4* accommodations were chosen as a standardized way of comparing different types of accommodation across varying cities, and as a way to be indicative of overall pricing trends in accommodations of all levels. Prices shown are the average daily rate (ADR) as reported on Booking.com for the time period specified. Weeks were defined as Monday to Sunday per calendar month.