There’s a moment most people experience once a year. It’s a global phenomenon that’s not separated by culture, creed, or gender - a truly universal experience. It’s the moment after a long day of work, a delayed commute, and bad weather when you finally realise ‘I need a holiday’.
So, when do you actually need a holiday? Can you pre-empt this moment so instead of dreading the day when you realise you’re burnt out? So you can smugly announce that you’re going on a trip to get away from it all? Our Tourlane Travel Experts set out to find when the British public should jump on a plane and escape it all:
The answer? February.
We looked at:
Bank Holidays - On February 5th, a UK worker would be 65 days away from the next bank holiday in April. Leaving over two months to wait for a day of government-sanctioned, paid, relaxation.
Weather (rainfall, sunshine hours, temperature) - February is one of the coldest, wettest, darkest months according to the UK Met Office data from 1910 to 2019.
School Holidays - February is blessed with a half-term break for school children. So, singles and families alike can enjoy a holiday within the month.
Airport Passenger Numbers - February is one of the least busy times to visit an airport according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
February is the perfect mix of cold, wet, dark and so far away from a bank holiday that you can’t even remember what a day off was like. Plus it’s the lowest month for travel going to or from the UK. So, you’ll be able to get a bargain and glide your way through a relatively empty airport to escape the UK for sunnier shores.
Check out our data below to see how we came to our conclusion. Also, take a look at our regional airport data, many UK airports have lots of months where the airport isn’t busy if you feel like you can survive February.
The Best and Worst Months to Go on Holiday
Let's be honest, every month feels like a good month to go on holiday. But, we looked at the data which tells us which is the very best month to leave the UK. Based on rainfall, sunlight hours, temperature, how far away you are from a bank holiday, and how busy airports are! February was a clear winner but January and November were a close second and third.
August was obviously the worst month to go on holiday, it's one of the busiest times to be in an airport and it's when the UK is getting it's best weather! Plus the August Summer bank holiday makes it a perfect time to enjoy a staycation.
Average Rainfall in the UK 1910-2019
Based on data from the Met Office, our Travel Experts decided to take a look at when the UK is the most inhospitable to live. Dark nights, never-ending rain, and freezing cold temperatures forcing you to stay indoors. We can see in the graph on the left that February isn't as rainy as some of the other months in the year. However, as you can see from the graphs below February's weather added together makes for one of the wettest, darkest, and, coldest months once you summarise the average data. Another interesting note, you can also see April has the least rainfall of any other month dispelling the myth of 'April Showers'!
Average Sunshine in the UK 1910-2019
February is one of the months with the least sunshine in the UK based on historical data. Sunshine has health benefits and negatives but usually the negatives is based on prolonged exposure to sunshine. The UK in general doesn't get as much sunshine as its European counterparts and it's been shown that sunshine can have a positive effect on your health and wellness according to multiple studies. Escaping the darkness of the UK with a holiday to sunnier shores might be the perfect way to negate any negative effects of overcast and dark seasonal weather.
Average Temperature in the UK 1910-2019
Brrrr! February is the second coldest month of the year after January. The adverse effect of cold weather is obvious in the UK, people tend to not go out and socialise as much as they do in warmer seasons. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and waiting for the weather to change before you can enjoy yourself outdoors. Along with the previous graphs, we can see that February is typically a very miserable month to enjoy yourself.
UK Bank Holidays & Gaps
The UK is blessed with lots of Bank Holidays but sometimes these are spread throughout the year so far that you don’t have one for a long time. We can see on the table that the gap between August 31st-25th December is the biggest but those months also have a lot of fun holidays (Halloween, Bonfire Night etc.). Whereas on February 5th you’ll be waiting more than two months before you’re next day off while the weather is cold, wet, and dark! But, some months are still pretty close in terms of which month is the best to go on holiday. So, we decided to look at another important factor - when is everyone else going on holiday?
The Busiest Times to Go On Holiday in the UK
Thanks to data from the CAA, we can see that February is one of the quietest periods in UK airports on average based on 2019’s data*. Both domestic and international passengers are at their lowest in January but since most people have already returned from a break over Christmas, many don’t feel the need for a holiday straight away. February has already been proven by the data acquired above that it’s one of the most miserable months to spend in the UK and luckily, it’s also the easiest one to take a break away from it. Enjoy a relaxing journey in an empty airport lounge and half-full planes with a February holiday.
The Busiest Times in Regional Airports
Table: The lighter the green, the lower the number of airport passengers.
The UK has 40 commercial airports, allowing travellers a variety of options when flying overseas. Above is a list of the top 15 most popular airports in the UK and a heatmap of when they are most and least busy based on 2019’s average data*. While February is obviously one of the least busy months, we can see some differences in regional airports. Belfast International seems to be jam-packed all year long with March and April being a lot more populated than other airports in the UK. On the other hand, Stansted of the biggest airports in the UK doesn’t seem to start hitting its peak until May.
Methodology Tourlane compared the months of the year to come up with the month where going on holiday would be beneficial to the average UK worker based on certain criteria. The criteria was: The amount of international and domestic passengers arriving and leaving from UK airports. The average coldest months of the year. The average wettest months of the year. The average darkest months of the year. The biggest periods of the year with no Bank Holidays for the entire UK. The months which featured a school holiday for UK schoolchildren. Considering all these factors we have chosen February as the month where UK residents ‘need’ a holiday. Sources: https://www.caa.co.uk/Data-and-analysis/ https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/ https://www.gov.uk/bank-holidays
Note: Tourlane based its findings in this study to be based on our travel expertise and relied on data accessible by the general public. *2019 December information was not available at the time of publication