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Last Minute Christmas Getaways That Won't Cost You A Fortune

It's not too late to nab a great deal.
Fly on Christmas Day for extra savings.
Fly on Christmas Day for extra savings.

If you're looking at the end of the year and suddenly getting itchy feet, we have good news for you. It's not too late to book a Christmas getaway... yes, even on a budget.

According to booking data from Expedia, while most Aussie travellers tend to book their end of year vacations before October, there are still one in five who leave it to the last 30 days.

Sound familiar?

Don't worry, we've got your back. Here are our hot tips to booking a last minute Christmas getaway without breaking the bank.

Book sooner rather than later

Looking at the 90 days before Christmas, Expedia's booking data reveals November is apparently the cheapest time to book, with six days before Christmas being the most expensive (strangely specific, but there you go).

"With Christmas so close, our advice is to book now. Whether it's getting home for Christmas or opting for a getaway over New Year's, the sooner you book the better you'll be in grabbing yourself a bargain," managing director of Expedia Australia and NZ, Michael Pearson, said.

"There are no surprises that demand during this period is high, which pushes flight and accommodation prices up."

That speed is of the essence is a point also echoed by travel expert, Amanda Behre.

"If you want flexibility in terms of destination, flights, accommodation and price -- now is the time to get organised and lock in your Christmas getaway, with availability getting swept up fast in popular spots," she told HuffPost Australia.

And while it's risky to leave booking holidays until the last minute, Behre says it can sometimes pay off.

"Although waiting for a hot deal at the last minute is slightly riskier than booking in advance, it can often result in the reward and inner smugness of nabbing a good rate, even over key booking periods like Christmas," she said.

Fly back in mid-January

One of the best things about going on a holiday over the Christmas period is not having to take as much annual leave, thanks to the three public holiday days (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day for those who don't know.)

However, this also coincides with people coming back to work in early January once their two-week trip is up. With demand comes price hikes, so you may actually be better off extending your stay and flying back a little later.

"There is often a mad rush for people to get back on the first couple of days in January," Pearson said.

"If you can, think about taking a few extra days holiday into January to not only feel extra refreshed, but come back when flights are cheaper."

A longer holiday *and* a cheaper flight? It's a win/win.
A longer holiday *and* a cheaper flight? It's a win/win.

Be flexible

When it comes to booking last minute, you have to be prepared to be a little more flexible in terms of travel dates and times.

"If you are open to it, consider flying on Christmas Day, when (generally) there will be less demand for travel, especially in comparison to Christmas Eve," Behre said.

Opt for a package

If you're looking at a resort-type holiday, opting for a package deal can dramatically reduce your costs.

"Bundled flights and accommodation packages can be a godsend during the peak period for those on a budget. Also check for packages that include activities to make your spending money go even further," Pearson said.

In fact, according to Behre, the savings could even pay for an entire night's stay.

"Combining flights and accommodation in a package offers you a special rate that's not available when booking hotel and flights separately," she said. "Sometimes this can equate to the cost of one night's accommodation."

Palawan in the Philippines is becoming a popular spot for Aussies.
Palawan in the Philippines is becoming a popular spot for Aussies.

Research your destination

Okay, so you know when and how to book, but now comes the exciting part: where to go?

While it depends on what sort of traveller you are, Pearson says the most popular type of holiday after the hectic holiday season is one in which you can truly unwind.

"After the busy Christmas period, a fly and flop holiday is perfect for this time of year," he told HuffPost Australia.

"Aussies are happy to fly for up to nine hours for a beach holiday so places like Fiji are perfect as are destinations across Australia -- it's hard to beat Australia during summer."

Top places Aussies are spending their Christmas holidays^:

  1. Bali
  2. Singapore
  3. Fiji
  4. Phuket
  5. Auckland
  6. Kuala Lumpur
  7. Bangkok
  8. London
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Hawaii
  11. Tokyo

^Based on travel dates – 23 December 2017 – 1 January 2018.

Source: Expedia.

While hotspots like Bali and Fiji are bound to be popular year in, year out, both Pearson and Behre say there are underrated destinations that are well worth a visit.

"Holidaymakers are expected to be lapping up the Aussie tradition of Christmas by the beach once again this year. While we're seeing strong demand for the usual hot spots, there are still a few sneaky bargains on offer, busting the myth that peak period travel equates to inflated accommodation pricing," Behre said.

"​​We have crunched the numbers and, based on availability as well as the predicted value for money, travellers should consider Port Macquarie, Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, and Cairns."

For Pearson, it was all about the west coast.

"Perth is my hometown so I may be biased but I think Western Australia is a real Aussie gem," he said. "In particular, Busselton, with its iconic 1.8km jetty as the focal's an ideal gateway to the renowned Margaret River region.

"Outside of Australia, we're seeing some interesting destinations attract more attention, such as the Palawan in the Philippines, Kauai in Hawaii and Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam."

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