Goodbye summer, did you have to leave so soon? It wasn’t your finest performance! Were you too distracted by the golden medals to give us some golden sunshine? Not to mention the torrential rains quite unbecoming of your supposed character.
Depressing, isn’t it? This summer, despite breathless spring promises of heat waves and scorching days, was a washout. It’s enough to make you rip up the credit card bill, renounce your piously planned ‘staycation’ and run to the nearest airport.
September is one of the most popular months for last minute holidays, but they can be a minefield both to plan and execute. The organization required is often too over-whelming for those who need to make lists and plans before leaving for the airport.
But there are shortcuts you can take and options you may not even have considered which save you time, money and stress. If facing a long dark winter after a long dark summer is just too bleak a prospect to deal with, then take the following tips, pack up and just go!
Sweet-talk your boss
Most employers will baulk at last minute requests for holidays, but if you word it carefully you may be able negotiate some time off. Have a well laid out plan of the work you can have done in advance, and have answers to any difficult questions prepared. Perhaps you could afford to take a couple of days off unpaid. Depending on your job, you could even work remotely and do the bare minimum to keep things ticking over. This is a growing trend, as the work/life line becomes ever more blurred. Finally, make sure you’ll be away over the weekend to minimize the time off required.
Book through an operator
If you’re going on a very last-minute holiday, you don’t want to be scrambling around airline and hotel websites, fretting about connections and wondering does your hastily constructed plan make sense. Book through an operator and all this will be taken care of. Plus, you may even get a great last minute deal. Beware the “LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY FOR £100!!!!” merchants however; the Internet is full of tales of customer service woe. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the telephone. A travel agent will be able to advise you of the best deals and best locations.
Choose your destination
Planning a holiday to a faraway destination can be frazzling at any time, never mind when you’re pulling it together at the last minute. Plus, you’ve probably wrenched open a window of opportunity, and could be leaving work to go to the airport, and from the airport back to work the next day. So nix any long-haul dreams and focus on Europe. Even apart from time considerations, the silver lining on the eurozone crisis cloud is that there’s better value and a cheaper cost of living than ever before. Bulk is better- family holidays in Europe can now be nabbed for a steal, but you may find it more difficult to get good value if you’re going solo. Remember to be open to all possibilities- the more stipulations you place on the location for your last minute break, the more difficult it will be to find something suitable.
Choose your location
Once you’ve decided on a country, your next choice is between a city or a countryside break. Be realistic. Seeing a city properly really requires military-esque planning- so many sights, so many bus lines, so many tourist traps. To make the most of a city break, you need to do your homework properly, something you just may not have time for. Consider instead a beach resorts, walking or cycling holidays through the countryside, or even a camping holiday- only if you already have all the camping gear you’ll need. Plus, prices in the countryside tend to be cheaper than the city, an important consideration if you’ve paid a little over the odds for your last minute deal.
Unless you’re scarily organized, last minute packing can end in disaster, with crucial items left behind. You may not have time to make an exhaustive list, but search for a packing checklist online and use that, as it’s bound to have all the essentials. Similarly, if you’re going on an activity based holiday, ensure you find out what specialized items you need- again, a phone call to your travel agent will help and save you time. Try to ensure you have clothes to cover all weather, including a rain jacket and lots of separates. And remember to weigh your bag before you go. Annoying excess baggage charges could add a considerable amount to your last minute holiday bill!
Laura has successfully negotiated last minute family holidays in Europe for years- apart from one passport related incident.