How to book a last minute holiday


When trying to work out how to book a last minute holiday, the first thing you need to do is get person to person contact. Rosy is in charge of our Holiday Helpdesk, and unlike ‘Anna’ at Ikea, Rosy is real. Although when you start to delve into her extensive knowledge of all the holiday options on offer, you will start to wonder if she is actually for real. But she is. She and her colleagues just know their stuff, and they are jolly, and they patient. And we know, because the rest of us at Responsible Travel always go to them as our first port of call for anything we don’t know. However, if you do phone or email about a last minute holiday, here are a few things worth keeping in mind.

Order of service

When you call Terrie or her team, they will talk you through the various late availability options for the time you want to travel. And for the budget you have available. They will let you know if they are independent or small group holidays, and will give you plenty of food for thought of how many oysters there are out there for the picking in the world. Please note that we don’t book flights at Responsible Travel. Check out Skyscanner for that one.
Once you have whittled down the options, Terrie will put you in touch directly with the relevant tour operator who can take over with all the details at that point, as they are the experts in their field, and can tell you all the nitty gritties about what you need to pack, accommodation details, who else will be travelling in a small group with you, and so on. They will also then be able to advise you on flights, or book them for you.

Great expectations

Because we work in partnership with the best small travel companies in the world – the experts, the specialists – we work differently from the likes of Thomas Cook. Our small companies don’t just book holidays up en masse, and then sell them off at the last minute with a special deal. They only book the walking guides, small family owned hotels, bike hire, whale watching boat or whatever when you do. So, although we are happy and able to book something for you at the last minute, please remember to be patient as all the details are put into place. And try to be flexible. So, if you ring on a Thursday and want the world at your feet by Saturday, it isn’t going to happen.
Terrie, Customer Services Manager, Responsible Travel: "The most common thing we hear is, ‘I am just so stressed I need to get away this weekend’. But sometimes I tell them that they are going to get even more stressed trying to book something in 48 hours, and so just to book something for two weeks’ time. It will be worth it."

Four hour flights of fancy

One of the most common last minute requests, particularly during the UK’s spring season, is ‘I’d like to go to the sun this weekend, but don’t want to go on more than a four hour flight’. If there is late availability to the likes of Lanzarote or Morocco, we can offer that but, after that, this notion that the sun is only four hours away from our woolies and hot water bottles, is definitely a flight of fancy. So, either you need to fly further afield, say to South Africa, which is a longer flight but you don’t have time difference issues, or go for an activity holiday where you will be glad that the European heat waves haven’t kicked in yet. Such as cycling along the coast of Croatia, or hiking in Sardinia. Or that the likes of Catalonia’s Cadaqués is free of tourists, but packed with charm.

Flexibility gets you everywhere

If you are looking for late availability, which doesn’t always mean ‘this weekend’, but it might mean starting your search for a Christmas break in mid-November, then you really do need to be flexible with dates. It makes the world of difference when it comes to booking.
Terrie, Customer Services Manager, Responsible Travel: "Don’t hesitate if you find the right last minute holiday. You can’t really be annoyed if you find a last minute dream of a holiday, and then two days later it is gone. So, bite the bullet and go for it"
Need advice?
Call: +44 (0) 1273 823 700 (9-7 Mon-Thur, 9-6 Fri and 10 - 4 Sat)

Last minute is for open minds

Another top tip for late availability holidays is to be open-minded about all the things that you can do. Spontaneity is often the greatest antidote to stress. You almost have to let fate play a hand when it comes to where you can go and what you can do, rather than saying, ‘this is what I want to do, and that’s that’. Planning and booking your holiday in advance is way up there with those who get their towels on the deckchairs first thing in the morning. However, if you sleep in and miss your pitch, you can always wander round the next headland and find a secluded spot that no one else knows about. So, staying open to the world can bring wonderful results, and given that we stand by the quality, authenticity and adventure of all our holidays, we feel confident in taking you down a path you might never have thought of before.

“Another top tip for late availability holidays is to be open-minded about all the things that you can do. Spontaneity is often the greatest antidote to stress”

Last minute doesn’t mean cheap

This isn’t the case at all. Sometimes we do have special offers, and we will state that when we do, but there is a difference between late availability and a special offer. Sometimes people feel that they are doing the holiday company a favour by choosing to go late in the day, and so feel that they deserve to be given a discount, but it doesn’t really work like that with small specialist travel companies.
Terrie, Customer Services Manager, Responsible Travel: “I recently chatted with a woman who just wanted to get away, quickly, as she was super stressed at work. She didn’t want to go too far or for too long. A couple of days later she was blissing out at a yoga retreat in Portugal. Result.”
Photo credits: [Top box - Rosy in India: Rosy Everitt] [Four hour flights of fancy - double: Marco]
Written by Catherine Mack
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