Finding a cheap last-minute holiday
3 MIN READ
It’s already summer, you still haven’t booked your summer holiday yet and you’re on a budget.
You still haven’t given up hopes of a last-minute dash to the beach or to foreign cities but prices that seemed reasonable-ish in January have rocketed upwards now school’s out.
So what should you bear in mind if you’re looking for a cheaper last-minute holiday?
Be flexible on timing – find cheaper midweek travel
When it comes to booking a last-minute holiday on a tight budget, timing is everything.
Most people seem to prefer to travel out and return on a weekend but, if you can be flexible, traveling midweek can save you money.
Right now, flights from Dublin to Malaga, for instance, may be 50% cheaper if you fly out on a Tuesday in August than if you travel on a Saturday or Sunday.
To find the cheapest flights for a specific destination, use the tools that most airlines provide on their websites to help you find low fares.
For example, Aer Lingus ‘Explore’* lets you choose a specific country to fly to (or you can just choose ‘Anywhere’) and allows you to select what months you want to travel. You can also set a limit on the maximum flight time you are prepared to endure and the price ceiling you can afford.
While Ryanair’s ‘Fare Finder’* enables you to carry out the same kind of research on their flights and discover the cheapest days to travel there and back for the months ahead.
Other airlines offer similar tools to help you find cheap flights.
Of course, as we know, the time of your flight also determines how much it costs.
The very early and late flights out to sun destinations may be a lot cheaper than the ones at times in the later morning or afternoon if you can handle getting up that early or arriving at your holiday destination in the dark.
While, for city breaks, the earlier flights might be more expensive and the ones during the day less so.
Be flexible on location – try somewhere new
Many of us have only our own favourite destinations in mind when we go looking for a holiday.
Spain, France, Portugal and Italy have long topped the charts as the preferred foreign destinations for Irish people.
But airlines are adding low-cost flights to lesser-known destinations all the time so if the cost of a holiday to your usual choice is too high maybe it’s time to try somewhere new?
You might find that you can have the same kind of sun and beach holiday in Bulgaria for a lot less than your usual destination in France or Spain.
And, of course, your favourite and familiar destinations, expensive in July and August, may be a lot cheaper to visit if you can wait until September.
If that’s not possible, try dates that straddle the end of one month and the start of the next and you might find more affordable options as many people like to have their holidays over by the end of the calendar month.
Have your budget last-minute holiday in Ireland instead
You can avoid the airport altogether if you decide to stay at home this summer.
Ireland can’t promise wall-to-wall sunshine and tropical temperatures, of course, but there’s a lot to be said for chucking everything into the car without caring if you’re exceeding your 20kg suitcase limit or your liquids are all properly bagged and below 100ml.
What you save on flights and hiring a car, you can either save or put towards the cost of a holiday cottage or hotel in Ireland making them more affordable.
Ireland is blessed by an abundance of established resorts along the coastline and inland familiar from childhood holidays.
Maybe make your last-minute break a return to the resort you used to go to as a child?
Get some advice from your local travel agent
If you’re looking for a last-minute holiday, you probably don’t have the time to spend hours and hours finding one.
You might save time and energy by popping into a reputable local travel agent and getting them to do it instead.
Good travel agents will know which destinations are better value at this time of year and may be able to get you deals on even the most popular destinations if your bags are packed and you’re available to fly out within a few days.
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) website* has an ‘Offers’ section where you can find the best deals from travel agents around the country.
But there’s a lot to be said for getting to know a reputable local travel agent who has an interest in getting you the best deal and ensuring you are happy so that you come back again the next time.
Considering buying your summer holiday on a discount website?
If you are confident of your ability to negotiate a good deal and have an eye for detail then you might want to bid for holiday accommodation offered on websites that offer cheap deals via classified ads.
But remember to take time to be absolutely clear on what you are actually buying.
If you are buying a hotel voucher, for example, always ring the hotel and check that it is still valid. 80% of hotels and guest houses are affiliated to the Irish Hotel Federation but there are no standard terms and conditions across the industry so always check details with the hotel or guest house first.
There are also websites that provide a platform for people selling their unwanted holidays, flights, accommodation, cruises, and festival tickets and shows the potential savings for each advertised item.
Remember, however, that airlines charge for changing a name on a ticket and that not all airline tickets are transferable.
Changing a date on a ticket might be expensive and this cost may not be included in the offer price.
Always check the details thoroughly before you make a bid so there are no surprises.
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