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.

August last minute vacations

Of course, last minute August offerings are often thinner on the ground. But they do happen – especially on small group vacations if people drop out and spaces free up. You need to think outside the box a little bit when it comes to Europe, however, when the coasts are crammed, but the mountains and inland lakes are often less so. Typically, in countries like Montenegro or Croatia, local people also head to the coast in August, so the inland natural playgrounds of national parks and mountain ranges, many of which are within easy driving distance of the coast, are extremely quiet. In France, Spain or Portugal, you can escape the seaside throngs and oppressive heat by heading not too far inland (and uphill) to the Mercantour National Park, the Picos de Europa or the Serra da Estrela respectively.

Less obvious last minute summer destinations include Iceland, where there are still gloriously long days and migrating whales can be seen in the surrounding waters. Warmer weather also means great conditions for hiking. But be sure to pack mosquito repellent! Keep Borneo on your radar at this time of year too because, although much of South East Asia has monsoon at this time, this is one of its driest seasons, and the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mount Kinabalu. Similarly, Sri Lanka has the southwest monsoon season at this time of year, although it should be drawing to a close in August. However, the northeast of the country escapes it, and it also has very undeveloped beaches.

In terms of tranquillity, you will always find empty beaches and lakesides in Canada or Alaska (barring the clam-seeking bears). Or head to the lesser-known national parks, with most of the crowds heading to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. If you are lucky enough to see last minute availability on wildlife wonders such as Arctic expedition cruises or safaris in South Africa or Namibia, grab them. This is a perfect time to catch the wildlife at its most active, but they do book up way in advance, so last minute tickets are golden ones.

September last minute vacations

People in the know, and those who are lucky enough not to be controlled by school vacation restrictions, can make the most of the fact that September is often the magic month for vacations in many parts of the world. And you have more chance of getting a flight at the last minute as well so, all in all, happy (holi) days. The B-team is particularly strong in September, being the top time of year to visit Brazil, Borneo and Botswana.

The Mediterranean countries have cooled just enough to make hiking and cycling survivable, and yet the sea is still gorgeously welcoming after a workout on the highways and byways. And some of the less obvious European destinations are still very much open for business at this time of year too, such as Romania, where you can start to catch the autumn foliage changing as you hike through its colossal Carpathians. Outdoor activities in Scotland and Ireland during this time are also wonderful, with highlands and islands particularly tranquil.

Staying north, September is also one of the best months to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, as they're said to be more likely around the equinoxes. There's still some daylight, meaning you can get out and do other activities. Norway can also have lovely mild weather at this time, along with very long daylight hours – and few other visitors.
The visitors have dispersed from safari countries in September, but the wildlife hasn’t, with the Great Migration still going on in Kenya and Tanzania, including the Mara River crossing. Heading east, Thailand's Andaman Coast gets the worst of the monsoons, but the climate in the Gulf of Thailand is drier at this time – so check out last minute trips to this part of the country.

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.

Our top Last minute Vacation

Hiking the Inca trail vacation

Hiking the Inca trail vacation

An unrivalled combination of history and spectacular scenery

From US $1879 to US $2099 9 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 4 Sep, 7 Sep, 12 Sep, 18 Sep, 2 Oct, 10 Oct, 16 Oct, 23 Oct, 30 Oct, 6 Nov, 18 Dec
2020: 25 Mar, 8 Apr, 29 Apr, 7 May, 13 May, 4 Jun, 13 Jun, 2 Jul, 16 Jul, 30 Jul, 5 Aug, 8 Aug, 20 Aug, 2 Sep, 5 Sep, 10 Sep, 19 Sep, 24 Sep, 8 Oct, 14 Oct, 21 Oct, 28 Oct, 4 Nov, 2 Dec, 18 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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