You’d think booking a holiday late would mean paying an outrageous amount of money, right? Well, if you’re all about the bargains, you’re going to want to read this. We spoke to lastminute.com.au spokesperson Sarah King to share all her best-kept secrets about how you can plan a spontaneous vacay on the cheap.

Stay on a Sunday
Friday and Saturday nights are usually the most exxy times to stay in a hotel – so why not try a Sunday night instead? “Sunday stays are usually much cheaper than Friday and Saturday, plus, there’s nothing better than extending your weekend and waking up in a lush hotel bed on Monday morning,” says Sarah. She offers up this tip:If you’ve booked a hotel on a Sunday, ask for an early check-in so you can maximise your hotel (aka cocktails by the pool) time.”

Book a mystery hotel
“You can score a five-star stay at three-star prices through Secret Hotels,” says Sarah. Yep, it’s true. When booking, you can see the general location, star rating and some basics about the hotel facilities, just not the name. It’s like a lucky dip! “You book it and find out where you’re staying on your confirmation email. Proof last minute and #fancy doesn’t have to hurt the bank account,” says Sarah.

Be the early bird
We know, those 6am flights suck – but they’re also ridiculously cheap. Wouldn’t you wanna spend your money on drinks and amazing food? “You’ll get to arrive at your destination earlier allowing for more time to explore,” says Sarah. “Likewise, opt for the last flight home on your return, which will not only mean you (hopefully) get some extra shut-eye on the flight, you’ll also have an entire extra day up your sleeve without having to pay for accommodation.”

Shop around for the best rates
“Check out the exchange rates for the destination you are headed to and as a rule, never purchase your travel dollars at the airport or hotel,” Sarah tells us. “Online tools are the way to go and it’s best to pre-order foreign currency online to lock in a good rate from a travel money specialist like Travel Money Oz or Travelex. It may seem small, but the difference between getting 1.3 or 1.4 US dollars to AU dollar can sometimes mean an extra $50-$80 in your pocket when you’re spending $2000.”

Holiday packages are cheaper
Plus, it’s so much easier. As Sarah says, “Combining flights and accommodation in a lastminute.com.au holiday package offers you a special rate that’s not available when booking hotel and flights separately. This can mean a cheaper trip overall. You can choose to sort the package options by ‘package discount’, or even by ‘price’.”

Travel during the ‘shoulder months’
“Either the tail end, or just before the summer season, often offer the best of both worlds,” says Sarah. “The weather and water is still warm enough, while hotel availability is usually more open and flexible, making it easier to book spontaneous travel!”

Getting #wanderlust after reading about vacays? It’s not too late to book a trip for next month…

The best lastminute.com.au deals for April
According to Sarah: “We’ve found the best destinations to be spontaneous in April this year, based on the predicted average rate for last minute bookings made in March or April, for travel within April*:

  • Bali: Opt for chilled out Sanur: $94 a night
  • Malaysia: Shop till you drop in Kuala Lumpur: $119 a night
  • Thailand: Eat all the food in Bangkok: $100 a night
  • South Korea: Experience pop culture in Seoul: $178 a night

*Rates listed are based on the average daily rate for 3 – 5 star rated and self-rated accommodation bookings on lastminute.com.au in March and April 2016 for travel dates 1 April to 30 April 2016 for the described destinations. Prices shown are in Australian dollars and are not the rates displayed on the site. Rates are subject to accommodation selections made.

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