Grab a last minute holiday bargain

With the British summer being its usual wash out, holiday makers are looking to escape to the sun. Clare Francis, moneysupermarket.com's site editor, talks to our travel expert, Bob Atkinson, on where to go to get the best deal this summer...

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Clare Francis: Many families have been planning to stay at home and holiday in the UK this summer. But with the rubbish weather we are having, a lot of people are now changing tack and looking for some last minute sun.

We are here at Manchester airport, and earlier I spoke to Beth Brewster, because they have seen a big increase in the number of people jetting off on last minute deals.

Beth Brewster: We have seen, certainly in the last two or three weeks, with the weather that has just been abysmal – and that’s not just because we are here in the North – we have seen a lot of late bookings. I think people are really desperate to go away and get the sun.

CF: Bob Atkinson is with me, who is a travel expert from travelsupermarket.com. To tell us whereabouts you can bag those last minute bargains.

Q1: So Bob, we are seeing a big increase, aren’t we, in the number of last minute bookings?

Bob Atkinson: There definitely has been a huge increase in the last two or three weeks, with people wanting to go away and get some sun – especially since the weather really started to deteriorate – and the Met office came out and declared there would be no BBQ summer. So that is great for the travel industry, for people wanting to travel away on those airlines, and tour operators.

Where most people are going to is still the big destinations that have done well all year – the non-Euro destinations like Turkey and Egypt – but in recent weeks the Spanish destinations, Spanish mainland, the Spanish Balearic islands and also the Greek islands [have done] very, very well, and that is because there is a lot of capacity and there is very, very good prices to those kinds of places. You can pick up a one week holiday to somewhere like Greece at the moment for around the £300 mark and that is very, very good for August.

Q2: And is that because a lot of people have been looking to holiday outside of the EU because of the weakness of the pound against the Euro?

BA: Yes, it’s a combination of not only people going to the non-traditional destinations – so Turkey has done very well, Egypt has done very, very well – and people have thought ‘well I have been to Spain, I have done that a few times’ and also a lot of people have said this year that they are going to stay in the UK anyway. So, that has meant the capacity that there is to places like Spain and Greece hasn’t sold as well, therefore the better prices.

Now if you are looking to get away before the end of August those are my hot tips for the destinations where you are going to get the best prices. If you can afford a little bit more then there is capacity still, all the way up to the August bank holiday week for places like Turkey and Egypt.

But the real way you can save money is if you are able to maybe delay your journey and not travel until September or October, before that school half term, and there you can pick up some tremendous bargains throughout Europe - places like Turkey, five star hotels for under £400 all-in, places like the Caribbean for under £600, £700 for a week. So, there are some very, very good offers going into September, October specifically.

CF: I was going to say that if a lot of people are leaving it to the last minute, its hard to know how late to leave it. So you would advise – if you are looking to go away September/ October book now rather then leaving it a few more weeks?

BA: Well, it’s that age old question ‘When is the best time to book to get the best price?’ and it’s a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ Every year is different, every destination is different and every type of accommodation is different.

If you are after all inclusive, they have sold very well this year, so you are likely to pay a much higher price in the ‘lates’ market. But, stuff like Spain and Greece that hasn’t done well, you are likely to pick up a very good price even if you leave it to the last minute.

What I would advise is, work out where you want to go, set a budget for what you want to do and then if you see a price that you think is really good value, book that holiday at the price and then don’t look at the price again, in case you either get annoyed by that or actually really excited by that! Don’t worry - if you think the price is right, book it.

CF: Thank you Bob.

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