Aaaah, holidays. The soft sand between your toes, the lap of turquoise water, the cold beer. . . after the past few months of grey British weather and molten politics you’re definitely going to need that break, so don’t put it off a minute longer.
If you think you can’t afford it, then it’s time to get clever with your budget and book savvy - online luxury flash sale sites and deal finders can knock up to 70 per cent off the price of a holiday. So there's really no excuse.
We’ve picked six great ways to bag yourself a last-minute bargain, from city break to luxury beach flop and drop…
1) Groupon Getaways
The low-down: Not just the perfect place for things you didn’t know you needed until you saw they were 50 per cent off - super saver site Groupon also has a holiday section. It’s not the biggest selection around, but the deals can be seductive.
How it works: As the travel arm of the best-known of the daily deals websites, Groupon Getaways offers a well-curated and competitively priced selection of UK breaks, city, sun and adventure trips as flash sales – everything from a week in Mallorca to a Himalayan trek. Handy sections range from ‘breaks under £49’ and “Weekends’ to ‘Stays with Spas’ and ‘Premium’.
Top tip: Not just for rooms and flights, it’s also a great place to snag money off car hire - with periodic deals for Groupon members who can pay £5/£15/£22/£30 for online vouchers that can be traded in for £40/£60/£120/£199 off car hire from suppliers such as Avis and Hertz.
2) Luxury for Less
The low-down: Newcomer to the hot travel deals website bunch, Travelex’s recently launched site Luxury for Less describes itself as a “travel inspiration search engine and one-stop-stop for luxury holiday planning on a budget”.
How it works: Working with Skyscanner, the site pulls together the cost of flights and hotels - and factors in exchange rates – to build an affordable break. Put in where you’re leaving from, how many days you want to go for and with how many people and the site tells you the best place for you to go, based on your budget. Uniquely, it also factors in the anticipated spending costs for the entire stay, including vital things like food, taxis and wine.
Top tip: Keep your eyes out for the Travelex Happy Hour on the site – flash sales of special rates on currency exchange, with countdowns to show you how long you’ve got to snap the deals up.
3) Voyage Privé
The low-down: Great for A-list holiday lovers with B-list bank accounts, Voyage Privé is a slick members-only site (5.1 million members and counting…), offering flash sale, luxury travel deals – with pretty hefty discounts of up to 70 per cent.
How it works: Free membership gives you offers on luxury travel from city breaks to skiing and beach holidays – with most deals exclusive to the site. Flash sales are live for seven days, but the site always has a wide selection of holiday types on it at any one time. Deposits of 30 per cent can be paid on holidays over £1500 if you need to spread the cost.
Top tip: Make sure you sign up for the newsletter (daily, weekly or twice weekly) or reminder email alerts for certain deals to get a heads-up on the best offers as they come. Plus, if you invite friends to join Voyage Privé you can bank a £5 voucher when they register, up to a limit of 10 invitations.
4) Secret Escapes
The low-down: At the premium end of the "flash sale" travel websites, you’ll find luxury packages with flights and stays at four- or five-star hotels in the UK here – with savings of up to 70 per off the best rates offered direct from the hotel or airline.
How it works: Free membership gets you access to sales that last around 10 days. Each deal gets a thorough write up, with links to compare it against other booking agents’ prices. The site has also recently launched a personalised holiday service, Designer Travel, to help you find the best possible rates on specific hotels, villas and flights. Plus, members using Designer Travel get a free airport lounge pass for all travellers in their party.
Top tip: Look out for the site’s Smart Stays; ultra-affordable and carefully chosen three- and four-star hotels in hip locations for chic and cheerful breaks - usually with dinner and other thoughtful extras thrown in.
The low-down: One of the first travel sale sites and still one of the best, this leader of the pack has good deals on all sorts of travel-related bookings – not just last-minute ones.
How it works: The site works by matching ‘excess inventory’ (i.e. unsold plane seats, hotel rooms etc.) with those who want them at bargain prices, and although sales don’t have a fixed timeframe you have to be quick and carpe diem here - when they’re gone, they’re gone. Particularly good for city breaks (with flights) and hotel rooms, the site price matches if you book either with lastminute.com and find the same cheaper within 24 hours.
Top tip: Sign up for the email to get in the queue first for exclusive deals. And if you don’t mind taking a punt on where you’re going to end up (you won’t know the name of the property until you've paid for it) you can get savings of up to 35 per cent by booking one of its Top Secret Hotel deals.
The low-down: A free, membership-only site with 28 million subscribers worldwide, Travelzoo has a huge range of deals, from local bargains to luxury all-inclusive holidays abroad. A fully comprehensive travel site, if you want something specific you’ll probably find it – cheaper – here.
How it works: Deals are negotiated exclusively and the Top 20 deals section is worth clicking to immediately. It lists the best current deals Travelzoo researchers can find, with some seriously attractive savings – which are are emailed out each week in to subscribers. Deals range from city breaks to packages and cruises to hotel stays, with a clear and incisive write up on each deal that outlines the saving and why Travelzoo thinks this holiday is worth nabbing.
Top tip: Don’t just use it for overseas holidays. Register for the Local Deals newsletter for details on heavily discounted UK hotel breaks, activities and spa sessions that are perfect keep-you-going, staycation moments.