If you’re lucky enough to not be tethered to a strict schedule, then you’re a perfect candidate to take advantage of the deep discounts available on last minute travel.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to book anything (trains and restaurants, for example) months in advance with strict penalties and high fares discouraging spontaneity. We never did understand this concept. If there are open rooms or seats still available, wouldn’t hotels and carriers be eager to fill up any vacancies?
A little digging shows us that you CAN find great, even fantastic last minute savings on a variety of accommodation, travel and entertainment. Read on to learn more…
HOTELS: Lately, we’ve been keeping a keen eye on SecretEscapes.com Impulse collection. Impulse offers discounted rooms available in UK hotels and B&B’s for anywhere from 25%-60% off the standard rack rate. Just an example of what you can expect, this weekend you can book in at the ridiculously posh five-star Langham Hotel near Oxford Circus in London. A discounted classic room with continental breakfast will set you back a mere £169 a night, 52% off the rack rate of £324 per night – what a steal!
CRUISES: Cruises are a GREAT place to score a last minute deal as cruise lines hate nothing more than a vacant stateroom. If you’re blessed with a workplace that will allow you to take a week off on short notice, then consider the options available with a last-minute cruise. We checked out what’s on offer with Royal Caribbean and spotted a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise leaving on 02 February out of New Orleans, Louisiana for £285 per person. Included in that price is your room, most meals and some beverages. Alcohol and dining upgrades are extra.
With a cruise, you must consider extra costs such as airfare to and from the ship’s initial docking and destination location. This particular cruise starts and ends in New Orleans and we happened to find a roundtrip airfare for around £563 per person with US Airways. All totted up, your total spend will only be £848, minus airport transfers and extras like excursions.
To take the same cruise two months later would cost you £487 per person with airfare costs rising to £680. Of course, your circumstances may be different and you might be able to find a cheaper flight or you may desire a better stateroom, which all adds to the cost. Regardless, you can’t deny the good value for money last minute cruising can be! For comparison’s sake, you should also check out the last minute offers with P&O Cruises, Holland America, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess and a whole lot more!
FLIGHTS: This one is the trickiest to nail. There is no secret to finding and booking last minute flights. You might find a particular sale happens to work in your favour, but the odds of this happening are low. Usually, you can find charter companies who purchase an entire plane’s stock of seats and resell those seats for whatever price they can get. If empty seats are still available close to the time of departure, the charter companies will sell off the leftovers at reduced rates.
Alas, these chartered flights are often for popular package holiday destinations such as Spain or Egypt. If you’re hoping to escape to somewhere a little more “exotic”, you’ll probably be left empty handed. If you’re wanting a place to start some research, we recommend charterflights.co.uk.
WEST END SHOW TICKETS: We’ve always had great luck using the TKTS booth located in the southern end of London’s Leicester Square. On the day of a performance, you can start lining up at 10am to snap up unsold tickets at a discounted price. For example, a £67.50 ticket for Billy Elliott will cost you £45; Spamalot is £59.50 for £32.75; Shrek the Musical is £65 for £39.50. You get the idea.
You should note that if you turn up expecting to get tickets to a new show or something that is very popular, you will most likely leave disappointed. If you’re open to seeing something you’ve not seen yet and want to save a few quid, then we can’t recommend the TKTS booth enough.
LANDMARK AND NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES: If you want a crack at staying at some of the UK’s most unique and historical properties (castles, follies, gatehouses, stately homes), the Landmark Trust is your ticket to do so. Whilst the properties are extremely popular, you can sometimes sneak in on a last minute weekend or mid-week stay and snag a bit of a discount to boot.
Alternatively, if you’re on more a strict budget, you can always opt for a National Trust cottage. Whilst you won’t find any castles buried amongst their inventory, you will find plenty of stone cottages that ooze charm, farmhouses teeming with history and memorable places that will be hard to forget.