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A Guide to Booking Last Minute Holidays

These days, last minute holidays form a significant sector in the tourism industry. Whether through thrift or being disorganised, many of us end up pounding the computer keys looking for somewhere to go on holiday in just a few days’ time.

Once, booking a holiday at the last minute would have been unthinkable. The annual family holiday was planned with military precision and booked months if not years in advance. However, with travel so much more easily accessible and more leisure time available, making a spontaneous decision to take a break is no longer faced with a sharp intake of breath.

What is a “last minute holiday”?

A last minute holiday would be classed as a break booked within a few weeks of departure. Some holidays are still available for booking just a matter of a few days before the departure date.

Why book a last minute holiday?

Apart from occasional changes of plan for one reason or another, the main reason for booking a last minute holiday is the price. The last thing tour operators want are empty seats on planes and empty beds at hotels, as that means they lose money. They would prefer to forgo their profit and offer the holiday at a bargain price to ensure that the plane seats and hotel beds are full. If you’re not too fussy about where you want to go on holiday it may be worth booking a week off work months ahead and waiting until just a few days beforehand to book a cut-price last minute holiday.

How do I book a last minute holiday?

Whether you have made a snap decision to take a break or have had long term plans to go away during a specific week but have held out on booking to get a good deal, you are likely to find a wide choice of cheap holidays if you know where to look.

Firstly, keep an eye on window displays in high street travel agents. They often advertise cut-price last minute holidays and it couldn’t be easier to walk in through the door and book there and then.

Alternatively, start making regular searches online and checking holiday websites a few weeks before you want to go away. You should start to see the prices of holidays dropping as the departure date gets closer.

You can search for holidays on the websites of individual tour operators and on comparison websites. Also, it’s worth looking at some of the specialist websites which have emerged in recent years specialising in last minute holidays and hotel breaks. You may need to register for some of these websites but it’s usually free to do so.

Keep in mind that Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly. If you want to save some money look for holidays that fly out on Tuesday! Sunday has the second place for flight costs so if you can't get a Tuesday start, look for a Sunday one. Most websites provide free alerts for flight price drops so make sure you have set this to ON.

Are there any drawbacks to booking a last minute holiday?

Apart from the obvious downside that your dream holiday may not be available, you do need to be aware that you will probably need to pay the full price of the holiday upfront and there is unlikely to be any flexibility or chance of getting your money back if you change your mind or find that you can no longer travel on that date.

You might be interested to know about: Child Friendly Holidays.

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