It’s a sad fact, but the excitement and escapism of going away on holiday can sometimes be tempered somewhat by concern over its costs. You’re reclining on golden sands, and all you can focus on is how much each and every second in the sun is affecting your bank balance. 

We’ve all been there. Fortunately, there are ways to bring the cost of your dream holiday down, and this all starts before you even set off, during the booking process. 

From DIY breaks to all-inclusive packages, there are tried-and-tested methods of saving considerable amounts of cash out there. From waiting until the last minute to book to harnessing the proper power of price comparison websites, here’s how to save money when booking a last minute holiday.

KEEP A CLOSE EYE OUT FOR ONLINE DEALS

Last-minute booking websites represent a fast route to bagging a bargain, but you have to have patience, restraint, and skillful timing to get it right. Most list highly competitive deals which are kept right up to date, with rates altering regularly in line with supply and demand.

Don’t cheat yourself into the misconception that you’re backed into a corner. That, of course, is what they want you to think. We’ve all seen that warning when booking a room to the wire; ‘hurry! there’s only one room left’. Yeah, sure, we believe you guys. 

There’s no need to take ‘last minute’ too literally. To make sure you get the very best deal, keep an eye on the sites you’re eager to book with in advance of that – holidays tend to drop in price around 8-10 weeks before departure, although if you’re gutsy then waiting as long as possible can really pay off. 

Price comparison websites are a really useful tool, too. They’ll do a lot of the legwork for you, comparing hundreds of holidays across numerous sites. 

CONSIDER ALL TYPES OF HOLIDAY, ESPECIALLY ALL-INCLUSIVE

Now is not the time for snobbery and sweeping assumptions about the sort of holiday you feel fits your personal brand.

Are you used to booking your flights and hotels independently? Perhaps you’re a package holiday kind of traveller and would never normally dream of doing everything yourself? In the world of last-minute holiday bookings, your usual rules simply shouldn’t apply. By keeping yourself open to all types of holiday – self-catering, all-inclusive, and everything in between – you’ll maximise your chances of finding a real bargain. And in the process, you might discover something new about yourself, too.

It might seem a little counter-intuitive, but all-inclusive breaks can often provide the best value. Tour operators will have already shelled out for hotel rooms and planes, meaning they’ll do their best to sell every last place in order to avoid losing money. 

And just because you’re on such a holiday doesn’t mean you automatically turn into the type who wrestles people for the sun loungers at 6am.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND REGARDING DESTINATION

A lesson for life, perhaps; keep an open mind and a flexible approach and you’ll be richly rewarded. If you don’t mind where you go for your holiday (up to a point), then you’re more likely to get a brilliant deal. And perhaps a surprise or two about the fascinating cultures found spread far across the globe. 

By broadening your horizons in terms of destination, you’re casting that proverbial net a little wider, opening yourself up to a greater bounty of last-minute bargains, too. We’ve heard the Danakil Depression is nice this time of year.

BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR DEPARTURE DATE

If you’re in a position to be a little flexible (we’re sensing a pattern here) with your departure date then you’re likely to get a better deal. Hotel, flight and package holiday prices can vary greatly depending on the date you jet off, so it’s well worth searching a variety of dates to see if this makes a difference to your overall holiday price.

Industry experts have also suggested that the day on which you actually book your holiday can make a difference. With many deals released by companies on a Monday night, Tuesday afternoons are reportedly the best time to snap up any special offers.

BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR DEPARTURE AIRPORT

The UK isn’t all that big, and you may live in relatively close proximity to more than one airport. A degree of flexibility (hammering the point home, hey) regarding your departure point can pay dividends when you come to booking a last-minute break, with prices sometimes considerably lower if you fly from another regional airport.

It’s also worth bearing in mind additional costs, which can also fluctuate depending on your departure airport. For example, your actual flight might be cheaper from one airport but parking charges, lounge fees and even the price of any pre-flight indulgences such as a strong coffee might all be higher, minimising or even cancelling out any overall savings.

THE BOTTOM LINE

On the whole, if you can be flexible and patient then you’re well on your way to snagging a purse-pleasing last-minute holiday. Remember: be savvy about how you search, keep an open mind as to where you might spend your well-earned time off, and try not to look too smug when your break costs much less than you expected.

Want more money saving suggestions? Check out these insider tips for bagging cheap flights and continue this glorious run of penny pinching.