This year has seen the return of the fly-and-flop holiday. According to Skyscanner, 33 per cent of trips booked from June to August were for longer stays (up to 21 days), followed by mid-length stays (four to six days) at 13 per cent. Only 10 per cent of customers booked trips of three days or fewer.
Booking windows of under one week were more popular this summer than last, with a 12 per cent increase. The most popular European destinations? Malaga, Alicante, Faro and Palma.
This is not news to me. This summer, against the odds, I made it on two fly-and-flop holidays, to Portugal and Greece. And I wasn’t the only one jumping through hoops to get to sunnier climes. Many of my peers also made it on short European beach breaks, diminishing their risk by booking last minute.
For both trips I followed a fine-tuned formula. First, a destination shortlist, whose criteria was direct flights from Stansted, short and simple transfers (no ferries) and a decent but affordable hotel. Second, I waited until Thursday evening to book everything, following Grant Shapps’ travel corridors announcements. Both times I departed the following weekend.
Each holiday was five nights – long enough to switch off, short enough to not feel anxious about the destination being added to the dreaded “red” list. I ensured my return flight was on a Thursday or Friday, so that if the countries were added, I would make it back in time before quarantine was imposed (usually on Saturday morning at 4am).
For 2021, this trend looks set to continue. Spring/summer searches have been up 48 per cent in recent weeks, report Skyscanner, owing to news that vaccinations may be rolled out early next year. The same locations remain, along with long-haul options such as New York, Cape Town and Dubai.
Jon Thorne, consumer traveller expert at Skyscanner, told Telegraph Travel: “We’ve seen a highly responsive traveller community in 2020, responding to travel restrictions and adapting their destinations of choice, opting for getting away in shorter time frames and mid-length stays and longer trips.”
The trend has coincided with the wane of the weekend city break. According to Thomas Cook, it has seen a huge rise in millennial couples (a key city break demographic) booking resort holidays in destinations such as Greece and Turkey since relaunching online.
For those who turn their nose up at package holiday megaresorts – like, well, me – I managed to find hotels where I could fly and flop in sunshine and style. Casa Mae is a pastel-tinged property in the port town of Lagos; while Ekies, in Halkidiki, is a design-focused resort, with its own gentle bay and boat rental service. Both were within walking distance to beautiful beaches. Perfect, pandemic-era summer holidays.
Five hotel ideas for fly and flop summer holidays in Europe
Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Vourvourou Bay, Halkidiki, Greece
Alaior, Menorca, Spain
Saint-Raphaël, Côte d’Azur, France
Surbo, Puglia, Italy
Bodrum, Turquoise Coast, Turkey