Last minute holidays can provide you with a destination you hadn’t considered. Plus, a way to get more for your money. Although interest rates remain turbulent and Southern Europe shows no signs of chilling out, travel agents have seen a “dramatic spike” in bookings for very last-minute foreign holidays.
Are you bucking the trend – or wish to escape the UK’s unexpected summer weather? Either way, reading the number of benefits a last minute holiday brings may brighten your day. We’ve uncovered the latest, alongside how to book one and what to look out for. Let us explain all.
Why book last minute holidays?
Booking a last minute holiday has become more popular in the last few years because planning ahead has been a challenge due to the pandemic. They can provide you with an escape from the every day and have the following benefits.
The benefits of booking a last minute holiday
- It removes the stress of booking because there’s a greater certainty that your chosen destination is safe and open for travellers, after referring to the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) website for travel advice.
- Booking last minute offers more excitement for you and your travelling companions because you don’t have to play countdown months in advance.
- Heading for the slopes? Review the snow forecast before booking, to ensure you’ll be guaranteed a good snowfall throughout your break.
- You can book a break easily and on the go, directly from a mobile device or travel app.
The rise in natural disasters and travel insurance
If you book a last minute trip cover will not be provided if you’re unwilling to travel due to a natural disaster.
A natural disaster is an event such as:
- Forest fire
- Volcanic eruption
However, if your holiday was booked last-minute and is an all-inclusive holiday or package trip legal protection will be provided. Plus, any ‘flexi flights’ or ‘open tickets’ can be changed or cancelled post purchase. Just look out for any small fees you may have to pay.
On balance, your travel operator will be able to recommend which last-minute holidays are still available to replace your holiday.
With reference to Free Spirit Travel Insurance, you can change the dates and destinations on your policy – if no claim was made – after booking a new trip.
What cover does Free Spirit Travel Insurance Provide for a natural disaster?
- Travel Risks (section L) cover: The limits are up to £750 for these additional expenses.
- Cancellation & Curtailment Cover (section A & D): £2,500 Super / £5,000 Super Duper
- Unrecoverable costs are covered if you’re forced to cancel your trip before it starts or curtail your trip after you left home, because one of the following happens, which could not have been foreseen: fire, earthquake, storm, flood, riot or civil unrest in the country you’re travelling to.
- Extended Journey Disruption Cover (section I) if any of the below happens: You’ve had to move to another accommodation on arrival or at any other time during the trip because you cannot use booked accommodation due to a natural disaster, landslide, or an outbreak of food poisoning.
- A Free Spirit (Super Duper) policy will pay up to £1,000 for additional accommodation (room only). Plus, transport costs that incurred up to the standard of your original booking that you can’t recover from any other source.
How to book last minute holidays
7 steps to book a last minute holiday
Step 1: Do your research
Visit package holiday websites, and comparison sites. Note the most competitive offer on the market for both a last minute package holiday and how much it would cost to book flights and accommodation separately.
Step 2: Sign up for discounts
Once you’ve found the company offering the cheapest package holiday, sign up for their newsletters, to receive up-to-date discounts when they’re available.
Step 3: Check flash-sale sites
When you’re ready to go and can travel within 48 hours, visit websites like Holiday Pirates, Travelzoo, and Secret Escapes to find a bargain, some of these might not appear on comparison websites.
Step 4: Be flexible
Don’t just refer to what you see in today’s newspaper or what’s sent to you via email, consider calling a tour operator or travel agent directly. They should know which last-minute trips will be available throughout the year. Also, search for dates around the holiday you want. This way you can find the cheapest and change the filters, such as full or half-board and star-rating.
You could also be a flexible traveller by opting to stay in Florence instead of Rome because it’s not as busy, so there may be more offers for this destination. Review our culture trip blog which is full of lesser-known destinations to discover full of character!
Step 5: Read customer reviews
Refer to the online reviews past customers have written about the hotel or resort you may stay at. This will give you the reassurance that you’re booking into highly commended accommodation.
Step 6: Know when to book
Book a last minute break at the end of a season, outside peak travel times, or go for a mid-week flight to source the best deals.
Step 7: Haggle
Once you’ve found and chosen your holiday call the travel agent directly to start haggling. Although this is getting harder – if you don’t ask you don’t get. On the other hand, you could ask a sales-savvy friend/relative to help you. Alternatively, refer to the Money Saving Expert for tips to haggle, as well as a list of travel agents to call.
Last minute package holidays
Is a last minute holiday cheaper?
Booking all-inclusive, last-minute package holidays can be cheaper, instead of booking a single last minute scheduled flight, so find the time to do your research.
Travel Tip: Always book last-minute all-inclusive holidays or a package trip because all your legal protection will be included when you make your purchase.
If you want a cheap, last-minute package holiday, prices will usually come down closer to the departure date. From looking at the cities across Europe, Budapest in Hungry is not just one of the cheapest for a last-minute city break but one of the most exciting…
7 top last minute holidays to book abroad
Hungary’s capital Budapest is beautiful place for a last minute city break due to its collection of historical sites. Be greeted by warm hospitality, and enjoy a natural bath, while being pampered within one of many spas (there are 123 thermal water springs to choose from). After a day admiring Budapest’s amazing architecture and magical castles, sip hot goulash soup, one of Hungary’s traditional dishes.
Amsterdam is a great European city for a last minute holiday via Eurostar. A river cruise or coach holiday in spring is also a treat when you can admire tulip fields and grand gardens. However, if you’re in Amsterdam for just a weekend book a relaxing canal boat ride through the city to drift past iconic merchant houses – or capture them on camera by foot. Enjoy browsing around art museums? Spend a day at some of the most famous in the world, like Van Gogh’s. Love flowers and gardening? Visit the ‘Garden of Europe’ – Keukenhof Park.
Thinking about last minute holidays for you and your partner? Try Ireland. You could book a last minute spa break or wellness retreat that’ll provide many benefits in County Kerry, Mayo, or Donegal along the coast. For a slice of ‘the Craic’, experience Ireland’s true character by visiting Dublin to watch live music in a traditional Irish pub.
Also, there are lots of last minute romantic breaks to choose from, across Italy…
Last minute ski holidays in Europe are always an option (after viewing the weather forecast). One of our favourite snowy locations in Italy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a warmer, romantic break at any time of the year stay in Syracuse, Agrigento, or Catania (which is less humid) in Sicily – the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Book your last minute Greek island getaway during Greece’s Carnival Season, called Apokries (meaning abstention from meat) from 13th February – 6th March this year. It’s a time when everyone looks forward to spring and starts before the 40 days of fasting that lead to Easter. While there, join in with the festivities of eating, drinking, and socialising. Wearing costumes and masks is optional but symbolises freedom of expression.
During last minute holidays in France, you could stay in a caravan or go camping. Spend time in the carefree countryside of Normandy, or along the south coast in a family holiday park. A lot come with kids clubs, splashing water parks, cafes, and/or restaurants. Either rent a tent/caravan or bring your own! If you stay in Pas-de-Calasis, this is only a 28-mile drive from the ferry in Calais.
Last minute Spanish holidays are an option for spontaneous families. Majorca is a top location in Spain where sun, sand, and sea will be guaranteed for families. Or you could find a last minute activity holiday to keep everyone entertained within the Pyrenees. Surrounded by the lush, Sierra Nevada Mountains try horse-riding and mountain biking, before chilling beneath a waterfall or paddling across the water in a canoe.
France and Spain have always welcomed families for an escape to the sun and they’re two of our favourite European destinations. Not sure about leaving the UK? Book an unusual staycation or simply opt for last minute caravan holidays from Cornwall to Lincolnshire.
Free Spirit Travel Insurance for last minute holidays
Interested in booking some last minute holidays? Go for it! Just don’t forget your travel insurance. Luckily, Free Spirit Travel Insurance can cover you for the things that won’t cross your mind if you decide to do so. Remember to purchase travel insurance the same day you book your break to receive all the key features and benefits, such as cover for most medical conditions and disabilities.