Ask the experts: £500 festive flights

Our panel give advice on flying somewhere exotic over the festive break for less than £500

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 13 Nov 2014, 13:08 GMT, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 14:54 BST

QI have a budget of around £500 to fly somewhere over Christmas-New Year. I want to use the bank holidays plus annual leave to make the most of the break — travelling for two-three weeks, somewhere hot. What's the most exotic/adventurous place I can get to for this price?

Stuart Lodge, director, Round the World Flights:

If you're flexible around the Christmas holidays, and don't mind which airline you fly with, you can leave Heathrow on Air China and fly into Bangkok (on 25 December) and overland

to Saigon, returning on 21 January for £536. It's a fairly realistic, if speedy time frame for an Indochina adventure, looping from Bangkok to a Thai Island, up to Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand, then down through Laos and Cambodia and across the Mekong Delta to Vietnam. Moreover, it's only 18 work days if you exclude bank holidays.

Stacey de'Lamos, marketing specialist, Flight Centre UK:

Looking for sun doesn't have to mean a long flight too. You can fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 15 December from Gatwick, returning on 29 December, for £469 per person. Around five

hours away by plane, visitors can enjoy average temperatures in the low 20s and — around — nine hours of sunshine in the day, making for a warm escape from winter. And you'll be back in time for the New Year celebrations. Alternatively, you could visit Dubai, around a seven-hour flight away. Based on the same dates as above, flights will cost from £521 per person.

Helen Warwick, deputy editor, National Geographic Traveller:

The problem with booking a festive-season trip is the rise is prices. And if, like me, you're hoping to fly long-haul for a bit of winter sun, your options are pretty limited. Australiasia

is a no-go with £500, as is much of southern Africa. Flights to Southeast Asia also hover around the £600-plus mark. A quick Google revealed I could fly into Cancun, Mexico, for £450 with Thomas Cook Airlines and catch a bus for less than $50 (£31) into Belize. Many visitors to Central America fly via the US, but my route cuts the travel time and hassle of US security to a single nine-hour flight. Yes, the bus journey takes five hours, but I'll be breaking this up with a few days in the boho beachside town of Tulum, before crossing the border and hopping from one Belizean island to the next.

Get in touch: If you're in need of travel advice, email our team –

Published in the December 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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