Last minute vacation destinations

Need some late vacation inspiration? Here, we’ll regularly update the best last minute vacation destinations for you to visit over the next three months. To some travelers, booking three months in advance might not seem like ‘last minute’ at all, but if you’re hoping to do something that usually requires booking a year or so in advance, like hiking the Inca Trail, gorilla watching or climbing Kilimanjaro, then three months in advance is actually super last minute – especially if you need to get training in. Read on to find out what kind of adventures are waiting to be grabbed.

October last minute vacations

October can be a tricky month when it comes to late availability, as school vacations creep up at the end of the month, making it harder to book transport. It's a case of the early birds get the worms. Morocco is one of our favourite places in October, as the searing desert temperatures have subsided, the sea is warm, and the mountains are still snow-free. Lanzarote is still lovely too, and Andalucía, Croatia, Greece, southern Italy, southern Portugal and Turkey's southern and western coasts also still have great weather for cycling, hiking or water-based activities – while avoiding the summer crowds and prices.

October brings balmy beauty to Northern Vietnam, Burma and Southern India. For perfect hiking conditions, Nepal is the place to go, so look out for any injured parties having to drop out of the big treks at the last minute – if you are fit and ready to go, that is. You won’t need any training to take in the Northern Lights, however. In Iceland, the days are still long enough for you to engage in other activities such as hiking and exploring the glaciers, lava fields and geothermal pools.

Being on the equator, you'll be told that Ecuador has no "best time to go" as its climate is pretty constant. However, we think October is a great time, as you'll miss the summer school vacation crowds. This is also the drier season, so the Amazon is more accessible and wildlife more easily viewed.

Botswana and Namibia teem with wildlife in October as the dry season is at its peak, so animals come out in search of water holes. And if you can get last minute availability in Madagascar, it’s baby lemur time. Everyone say ahhhh.

November last minute vacations

Be sensible and start thinking about Christmas shopping and the ridiculously early build-up to Yuletide madness – or live a little and go on vacation? You can kill many birds with one stone by doing some original, and responsible, Christmas shopping in places like Northern Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand, which are dry and warm but not too hot in November. Kerala in southern India is also a great destination for some winter sun and Nepal’s trekking conditions are just perfect at this time. You can buy lots of local woollen goodies there to bring home for Christmas, too.

For a closer to home winter soak in the sun, the Canary Islands are still beautifully balmy, with places like Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Gomera hiking heaven at this time of year. Andalucía is also lovely, with cool, sunny days making it great for a walking or cycling vacation.

At the other end of the spectrum, now's the time to head to Antarctica for pristine snowscapes and the largest icebergs, before the summer warmth kicks off a giant thaw. But these trips do book up, so if you can catch last minute availability and you are in expedition, carpe diem mode, grab this chance of a lifetime.

Another trip of a lifetime is a gorilla trekking vacation. As November is not the peak season for this, being the rainy season, places can come up. You won’t be poured on all day at all, just in spurts, but you won’t even think about it when you set your eyes on your first gorilla family. And you will have the forests and mountains to yourself, the guides and the gorillas. If you can catch a ticket to Madagascar, you'll find baby lemurs abounds. And although the rainier season is starting in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, it is still a great time to go, as the national parks are quieter. Ergo, more last minute availability.

December last minute vacations

You have to have been very good boys and girls all year to be lucky enough to get a last minute Christmas trip, as this is peak time for so many countries and booked up far in advance by those people who are painfully organised. However, last minute spaces are available if you keep your eyes peeled. Northern Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand are dry and warm but not too hot. Costa Rica is dry in late December and would be the best Christmas wildlife break if you can find late availability – although they will be slim on the ground.

Kerala in southern India and Sri Lanka are beautiful at this time of year, but crowded at Christmas. If you can get a last minute trip to Patagonia, you’ll have great access to remote landscapes, with midsummer warmth and long days. Get there before mid-December, when the long school vacations begin in that part of the world.

January last minute vacations

If you just want to embrace winter, then January has interesting options such as Japan, which – if you can find last minute spaces to go skiing or winter walking – is very de rigeur. Europe's mountains (including the Alps, Carpathians, Dolomites, Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada) also have plenty of snow for winter activities. Places like Scotland, Slovakia and Romania are not always the most obvious ones to book, but just as stunning and with much more tranquil vistas than some of the more traditional snow destinations. For more winter wanderlust, head to Sweden, Finland or Norway for snowshoeing, igloos, husky sledding, skating and, of course, seeing the Northern Lights.

For sunshine, it’s southeast Asia that you want, where it is dry and warm but not too hot. Other popular destinations at this time of year are the Galapagos Islands, where there are calmer seas and warm weather, although you might still get spots of rain. You'll find similar weather in Costa Rica, but in general January brings warm sun.

You might get a bargain in the Patagonia sale when it comes to the shop, but it's unlikely in the destination where summer warmth, long days and access to the whole region make it peak season. But if availability does pop up, it is magical at this time of year, and will get your new year off to the most inspiring start. Kerala in southern India is another great destination for some sun. The Himalayas, Delhi and the Golden Triangle are best avoided, though – they're freezing. However, if you bring your layers for those morning safaris, this is one of the best times for tiger watching. You won’t need layers in southwestern Sri Lanka, where the sun will shine. Just avoid traveling to the northeast, where the monsoon will have started.

Don’t write off Europe for sunshine off the pistes; parts of Andalucía can top 20°C in January and rainfall is rare. This is actually a much more pleasant time to take a walking or cycling vacation than midsummer – when 40°C heat makes any activity unfeasible. And if you head up into the mountains, you'll find plenty of the white stuff to keep you busy too.

Our top Last minute Vacation

Egypt cultural vacation, small group

Egypt cultural vacation, small group

Discover Egypt on this amazing 9 day tour

From £999 to £1199 10 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 26 Oct, 2 Nov, 9 Nov, 16 Nov, 23 Nov, 30 Nov, 7 Dec, 14 Dec, 21 Dec, 28 Dec
2020: 4 Jan, 11 Jan, 18 Jan, 25 Jan, 1 Feb, 8 Feb, 18 Feb, 22 Feb, 29 Feb, 7 Mar, 14 Mar, 21 Mar, 28 Mar, 4 Apr, 11 Apr, 18 Apr, 25 Apr, 2 May, 9 May, 16 May, 23 May, 30 May, 13 Jun, 27 Jun, 11 Jul, 25 Jul, 8 Aug, 22 Aug, 5 Sep, 12 Sep, 19 Sep, 26 Sep, 3 Oct, 10 Oct, 17 Oct, 24 Oct, 31 Oct, 7 Nov, 14 Nov, 21 Nov, 28 Nov, 5 Dec, 12 Dec, 19 Dec ...
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Last minute or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Paxson Woelber] [December: Zdenek Machacek] [January: Sam Lee] [February: Frank Kovalchek] [March: Robbie Shade] [April: M. Zonderling] [May: Marien van Os] [June: Make it Kenya] [July: Juan Alberto Garcia Rivera] [August: Lecouteausuisseduweb] [September: Joshua Earle] [October: Philipp Klausner] [November: Oguz Serbetci]
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