Five ways to cut the cost of last-minute breaks

16 August 2010

There's a hint of autumn in the air, but there's still time to make the most of the weather and take a last minute mini-break, without breaking the bank. 

Think beyond the UK

Going abroad is not necessarily more expensive than staying in the UK. For example, a return journey from London to Paris costs £69 on Eurostar. Compare that to a super off-peak return of £108.30 for a train journey to Edinburgh from King's Cross. 

To get the best deals, make sure you are flexible with your destination and times. Try a variety of searches and use a number of comparison sites. Taking a little extra time at this stage could save you a good sum of money - leaving you with more to spend on enjoyable activities when you are away. 

Wild Camping

Throw your tent in the car and go wild camping – in Scotland, wild camping is tolerated and as long a you follow a few simple courtesy rules you will be undisturbed.

If there are no camping signs then respect them, don't camp too near to private houses, or if you have to knock and as the owner first. Avoid camping on agricultural fields, you will spoil crops and may well feel the wrath of an angry farmer. Don't stay in the same place for more than two nights, make sure you take all your rubbish with you and keep to small groups.

Remember, in England and Wales wild camping is not allowed.

Find cheap flights

If you can, book mid-week flights and avoid business 'rush hours', which are generally early morning and late evening. With scheduled flights and budget airlines, book early to get cheaper prices, but with chartered flights you will be more likely to get a good deal if you book late. 

Be wary of the hidden costs common with many budget airlines such as credit card booking fees and charging for priority seats. While you have to pay the card charge, you can avoid some of the other extras. For example, get around paying to check in luggage by bringing hand luggage only and make sure you check the luggage allowances so you don't suffer from additional charges at the airport.

Hotel bargains

Websites like and are good for bargains, but remember that none of the travel websites cover the entire market. Try using, which allows you to browse various deals in just one window. This is still not exhaustive but easier than opening multiple windows.'s 'top secret hotels' section offer deals on high-end hotels for a fraction of the usual price. This is because the up-market hotels want to avoid advertising that late-comers can get discounted rates for their rooms.

The name of the hotel is not revealed until you make your booking, but you do get details of facilities and a rough location to help you make a decision.

Ditch the car?

With petrol prices on the rise, it's worth considering whether using public transport would be cheaper, either for getting to the airport, or within the UK, getting to your destination.

Go to and put in the number of miles you intend to travel. It will then calculate the journey cost, allowing you to gauge whether driving is cheaper or not.

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