Last Minute Travel

Just in time: a look at the express vacation process

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 27.02.2007 13:28 (updated on 27.02.2007)

Written by Tascita Gibson
for Expats.cz

As you are wandering down the street, a bit of English catches your eye. You see in one of the windows the bold words “Last Minute” and then a list of exotic countries and rows of numbers. And you forget the snow for a moment and dream of white beaches and drinks with little paper umbrellas.

Have you ever been tempted to pop into one of these agencies and whisk you and your partner off on a dream holiday? Your visions of paradise may be closer than you think. Last Minute deals are big business here in Prague.

Where

Last Minute trips can take you anywhere from Thailand to the Swiss Alps. There are many companies, many destinations, and many different offers. The most popular destinations are those with water and sun, and the best deals are often according to the season. You should be specific about what you want out of your trip. For example, if you are headed off to Egypt with visions of the pyramids you might be disappointed to find you are in a luxury sea resort and the nearest town is kilometers away, with the pyramids hours from your hotel.

How to book

A walk down Václavské Náměstí or a quick search on the Internet will turn up a variety of companies to choose from. One thing that is immediately noticeable is that Last Minute trips are focused on the Czech market. Websites are almost always in Czech. However, the travel agents usually speak English and are able to help you with all the details if you go into the travel agency in person.

See our list of travel agencies here.

Accommodation and flight

The price varies according to the quality of the hotel. A choice is usually given between a more economical 3-star hotel up to a luxury 5-star hotel. It is always a good idea to ask to view photos of the hotel, because the star system can fluctuate greatly depending on the country and the area. Also, some companies contract with several hotels in one area. If you are booking for the destination and not a specific hotel, you may ask for a list of potential hotels you may be staying at. Some agents are flexible and you can choose which of the contracted hotels you are most interested in.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Often the flights are booked as charter flights. The agency will send an email and/or text message confirmation of the exact departure time if you are booking your trip a few weeks in advance. If you book a day or two before the trip they will provide this information immediately. These flights are generally with small airlines or tourist-specific airlines. It is common that these flights have a short delay during peak flying times. On the way to your destination, this is not generally a problem because the agency has organized transfer details and can make needed arrangements. But on the return flight if a friend is picking you up from the airport, you may want to keep contact information handy in case you need to inform your ride about arrival time changes.

When planning the trip, it is important to ask questions. Know exactly what you are getting for the price you are quoted. A few of the most important are:

Are taxes included in the total price?
Is transportation to and from the airport provided by the travel agency?
Do I need a visa for this country and will the travel agent organize the visa?
Is it possible to see photos of the offered accommodation?

Some basic vocabulary

When looking for your escape to paradise you will run into some common vocabulary quite often. This short vocabulary lesson should help decipher most Last Minute adverts.

stravování – board
ceny – price
zahrnují – includes
nezahrnují – doesn’t include
polopenze – half board, this usually mean breakfast and dinner are included but no mid day meal
all inclusive – all meals are included, the drinks which are included in the price depend on the hotel
snídaně – breakfast
bez – without

Istanbul was once Constantinople

Not so long ago, I met a friend for dinner. He brought with him a paper that had ISTANBUL typed in big bold letters across the top and 5,450 CZK underneath. My friend had seen this advertisement in the window of a travel agency. He went in, asked some questions, and decided to pitch the idea to me. Would I like to take a trip to Istanbul?

Now, the reason my friend knew he could pitch this idea to me is because I love to travel. Next to food, it is the thing that keeps life in my veins. It took me about three minutes to decide that Istanbul for less then 6000 CZK was an opportunity I was willing to take. We got a few more friends in on the action and had a nice group when we booked our trip.

Our trip was through the travel agency I’m Traveling. Every detail was organized by the travel agent. When we arrived at the airport there was a booth in front of the airport to check in with the agency. They verified we had all the right travel documents, gave us tags for our bags and told us which counter to check in at. A good number of people on our flight were also traveling with I’m Travelling. A representative from the company traveled to Istanbul with us. My friends and I were the only English speakers, but the guide kept us up to speed on all the important information.

The company organized transportation to the hotel, which had a beautiful view of the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus. There were optional organized tours of the city with the I’m Travelling agent, which we opted out of because they were in Czech. On the day of departure, the chartered bus returned our hotel and transferred us back to the airport. It was one of the most carefree, relaxing holidays I have had. I had nothing to worry about, to think about, to organize. I simply enjoyed.

If you are looking for an adventure without all the time, worry, and hassle of all the planning, then a Last Minute trip might be the ticket for you.