If you are already planning next year's getaway, but are struggling to come up with something truly unique, then we may have a little tip for you – why not consider flipping your expectations.

For example, thinking of a summer holiday will most likely raise thought of a hot sandy beach and an inviting, cool sea. Flip that around and picture a winter holiday and you will most likely be seeing yourself hurtling down the side of a mountain attached to a pair of skis, or browsing a winter market, your breath clouding the frigid air.

It goes to show that if these are the stereotypical responses, then if you want a truly unique holiday, you need to invert these conventions – and there are a number of benefits of doing so.

Chief amongst them is that you stand an excellent chance of saving some serious money – especially when it comes to airfares. The airlines are not stupid, they know, as well as you do, that most summer holidays involve sun and most winter breaks are about snow. They know where their customers want to go and when – and they happily ramp up their prices to meet demand.

Fight against that by flying to destinations that are out of the ordinary and you are going to find flight options where the prices have not been artificially inflated by high demand.

If you have a degree of flexibility too then you can really find some amazing bargains if you are looking to book last minute flights from Dublin. That combination of flights to less popular destinations added to the airline desperately trying to fill seats before the flight becomes a financial write off that can present you with some amazing opportunities.

Opportunities to do what exactly?

Skiing in Summer

Summer ski trips can be some of the most fun-packed holidays out there. But many people think that the European ski season is winter only, and that to hit the slopes in summer means expensive long haul holidays to the mountains of New Zealand or South Africa.

It is in fact perfectly possible to have amazing summer ski trips right here in Europe. Yes, you need to go to high altitudes (2,500m plus) to find parts of the continent still dusted with enough of the powdery stuff, but that is not as difficult as it may appear.

Hintertux, for example, is a resort atop a glacier in Austria. Most definitely not the other side of the world, this resort can be easily reached from Innsbruck airport that is served by a number of airlines including several budget carriers.

Summer skiing is never going to provide quite the same level of availability as the winter season, but even in the height of summer, Hintertux provides around 60km of varied terrain and pistes providing more than enough variety for most recreational skiers.

Beach Bronze in Winter

So if you’ve spent part of your summer playing in the snow, then it only seems fair to spend a chunk of the winter catching up on that suntan.

Really, in the depths of winter, with cold winds and short days, who doesn’t dream of getting away from the drizzle and the gloom and stretching out under a blazing sun? Well, you don’t have to dream!

Europe is also well stocked with plenty of places that are winter sun traps. There are the beautiful islands of Sicily, Cyprus and Malta to give just three examples of places that the winter gloom barely touches.

For your money though, little beats the sun-drenched island of Madeira. Yes, it lies almost 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal of which is it part, making it a bit of a stretch to really claim this as a true European getaway. However, with a beautiful coastline, outstanding cuisine and winter average temperatures of around 20 Celsius, you’re not going to hear many people complain too much about this quirk of geography.

Published by Michael Deane