Six of the best last-minute holiday websites
So, you missed the early booking deals and now you've just days to try to find a last-minute holiday bargain.
Sounds like an impossible task - yet there's good news; you won't necessarily have to comb the internet for hours or pay through the nose. You just need to know where to look.
These days, there is an abundance of useful sites out there that will help you navigate your way to smart deals, whatever type of break you're after. We've picked six of our favourites.
The quest to "recommend the best deals from the best companies" has earned Travelzoo an eye-popping 28 million members (it's free to join). This easy-to-use award-winning site, which has a dedicated Last Minute tab, gives the low-down on each deal it picks, including a short description about the style of holiday as well as the nitty gritty about flights, transfers and accommodation, with useful details such as prices for single travellers. All you need to do is choose your holiday then call up or click through to the supplier, quoting Travelzoo to secure the price.
BA Holidays is a great place to look for a last-minute bargain. The holiday arm of British Airways is naturally able to partner unsold seats on its planes with hotel vacancies across the world, and car hire, too. In fact, when you click through to the Late Deals don't be surprised to find a flight, car and hotel tots up to a cheaper price than you might think you'd need to pay for the air fare alone.
Luxury on a lemonade budget is served up by Secret Escapes. The flash sale travel club offers top-end breaks for less to those signing up for free membership, with savings of up to 70 per cent on everything from hotel stays to spa breaks. Best prices are guaranteed – in fact, it links to TripAdvisor and other sites so that you can compare prices for yourself. The Current Sales tab accesses a stream of offers with the discount clearly marked. There's also a Smart Stays facility, which seeks out deals at chic affordable boltholes in trendy locations.
Putting together your own holiday package? Then you might need to know when you'll be able to bag the best flight price. This is where Hopper comes in, a nifty app that identifies the best time to buy a flight. Tap in your desired dates on the calendar and Hopper draws on its archive of "trillions" of flight prices to predict when your flights will be cheapest. In fact, it goes one step further and advises whether you should wait to book or snap up the flight straight away. If the advice is to wait, you tap the binoculars icon, Hopper monitors the situation and lets you know as soon as the prices drop. If the advice is to buy, you can purchase the fare directly on the site.
No-nonsense advice on every aspect of a holiday on water is available on Cruise Critic, the world's largest cruise review and planning site (now owned by TripAdvisor). Browse the posts of the millions of cruise fans who comment on this site to help make up your mind about the kind of holiday you fancy, then tap on the Deals tab for quick access to thousands of offers. Select your dates of departure, destination, cruise line, even type of cabin for bookable deals that clearly show how much you'll save on the brochure price. The site's Price Drop facility also shows cruises that have been discounted during the past week.
Last-minute bargains aren't the preserve of holidaymakers looking to fly and flop, even campers (and caravanners) can get in on the act. Pitchup is a handy site (with a 98 per cent customer service rating on Feefo), connecting lovers of the great outdoors to more than 3,000 destinations in the UK, Europe and the Americas – from Atacama to Zlín. Finding a deal is a cinch, just go to the Offers tab to find literally hundreds of discounts, detailing location, site, dates available, and even the saving you will enjoy. You can filter your preferences further to include specific dates of travel and even the level of discount you'd like, up to more than 60 per cent off.