Palm trees line the man-made beach known as South Bank beach in Brisbane.

Question: I'm planning a trip to Australia to visit my two best friends next February.

I will be flying from Manchester to Brisbane, return. I wonder if you could advise me when the best time to book longhaul fights will be? I've been told there are sales after Christmas, but that seems very close to my departure date.

Julie Dobbs, Sheffield


Answer: For a one-stop trip from Manchester via Abu Dhabi to Brisbane for February next year, at present I am seeing fares of below £750 (about R14 000) return - a pretty good price for 10 000-plus miles of air travel.

But I recommend you wait to book until early January. That's partly because you may indeed find a slightly lower fare: a number of airlines typically put cheap fares in the market shortly after Christmas.

Mostly, though, it's because you have no idea what might happen to your circumstances over the next eight months. All too often, I hear from people who have committed needlessly far ahead for a trip and have had to cancel for “non-insurable” reasons such as a change in work or domestic circumstances, losing most or all of their money.

Since February is off-peak to Australia, good deals will be available up to and including the day of departure - though you might prefer not to leave it that late to book.

Between now and the end of the year, you should also consider building in a stopover in Hong Kong, Singapore or one of the Gulf hubs. You might also want an open-jaw arrangement for Australia, for example flying in to Brisbane but out of Sydney. These options will not push up the fare significantly.