During my youth I never had the urge to travel. I had a desire to experience new things and enjoy my time as much as possible, but that never really transferred into wanderlust; it was some six years between a trip to New York and finally booking my next trip to the coast of Spain. Not exactly extravagant, but those moments on the beach and in the sun definitely ignited something in me that’s burned brightly ever since. Maybe it’s a desire that grows with an increasingly stressful and busy life, but now I constantly want to be somewhere other than the UK – even if for only a few days. This year I’ve already been to New York, Paris and Brussels, soon to be followed by Mallorca and Antigua, but I’m always on the look out for fab last minute deals that offer an excuse for me to jet away and immerse myself in a different culture. If, like me, you have an increasing desire to fly away but are a bit rubbish at organising it ahead of schedule, then I’ve five top tips for saving money when booking a last minute break. Because that means more Euros to spend on mojitos.
PACKAGE DEALS CAN OFFER HUGE DISCOUNTS
Although you may naturally think booking your own flights, accommodation and excursions will save you money, the majority of the time package (or all inclusive deals) actually work out far cheaper – especially last minute. Research online what options there are and what they include, looking particularly for deals that cover practically everything you’re going to need (flights, hotel, food, transfers.) Package deals also allow you to plan your finances, as there won’t be any hidden charges or costs that send your plans into disarray; it’s much easier to plan and stick to a budget.
ARRANGE YOUR OWN TRANSFERS
An area you can save a huge amount of money on is your transfer to and from the airport. Unless this is included in your holiday package, it could hike up the price of your break significantly. For my forthcoming holiday it would have cost around €200.00 to get to and from the airport, but I managed to secure an eight day car hire for only £42.00 – which also eliminates the need to get on a coach that drops off at about twenty other locations before it gets to your hotel, wasting valuable sunbathing time. It’s these little elements that make a big overall difference.
BE PREPARED TO BE FLEXIBLE
It definitely pays to be flexible when booking last minute, rather than searching for specific dates. Many websites and travel agents have set holidays that they need to shift and reduce their prices accordingly, but these are nearly always set in terms of dates and flights. If you approach the booking process with an open mind, it allows you to get the best deal. Although this can be tricky in terms of securing time off work, often it’s the best approach to keep costs down. It’s also worth being prepared to travel outside of normal sociable hours, as the price of flights early morning and late night are often a fraction of the cost of those in the middle of the day.
INVESTIGATE ‘SECRET’ VENUES FOR SLASHED PRICES
There are so many sites that now offer incredible five star venues for pretty much rock bottom prices, so if you’re not fussed about knowing where you’re staying before you book then it’s worth checking them out. Lastminute.com, Secret Escapes and Mr & Mrs Smith are some of my faves, and are also fantastic for booking last minute UK getaways if you don’t want to go abroad. A lot of the most premium locations don’t want to be seen to be slashing prices, but they still need to fill their rooms – so keeping their name secret until you’ve booked is the best way to keep their reputation in tact. Take a chance and I guarantee it will pay off!
COMPARISON TOOLS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Although their adverts are incredibly annoying, comparison tools are actually very handy when you’re looking for the best deal. If you want to book elements separately then it’s the best way to ensure the lowest cost, while in-site comparison tools on some of the travel operator websites allow you to compare all inclusive holidays to ensure you’re getting a great deal. (I recently booked my holiday via Thomas Cook and could clearly see the pros and cons of each potential venue in the same place, so I could make the best decision for my need.s) It’s also worthwhile noting it’s important to regularly clear your cache, as the sites will recognise you and sometimes stop delivering the best prices on flights and holidays – cheeky, but totally legal.
Do you have any top tips for ensuring you get a great deal on your last minute break?
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