Your complete guide to planning impromptu holidays with the whole family

Family of three, with their luggage, ready for a holiday. Picture from FreePik

Family of three, with their luggage, ready for a holiday. Picture from FreePik

Published Sep 1, 2023


There is time to take a memorable family holiday before preparing for the rest of the year. If wanderlust suddenly hits you during the upcoming week-long October school holiday, don’t worry if you haven’t planned a trip.

With a planned trip, you have plenty of time to research flights, accommodation and activities to get the best price or a guaranteed reservation.

However, there are occasions when you and your pals decide to take a trip on the spur of the moment. Or perhaps there will be scheduled time off from work and you’d like to use it to make up for missed family time.

Holiday preparation at the last minute may be fun and full of unexpected opportunities to make cherished memories with your family.

There are many ways to turn your impulsive decision into a wonderful family holiday, whether you’re searching for a tranquil beach escape, a trip to the mountains or an action-packed metropolitan adventure.

As the director of the lifestyle brand ekko, the mother of two and a specialist in the hospitality sector, Samantha Pillay, offers advice to other parents:

Your holiday objectives set the pace

Find out what your family and you want most from your holiday. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation or a combination of both, identifying your tastes can make it easier to choose the ideal location.

Don’t limit yourself to luxurious locations. A short drive from the city, in a tranquil setting with stunning surroundings, can be the ideal hideaway for unscheduled time off.

Look for resorts that include all-inclusive packages, so you won’t have to worry about making separate reservations for lodging, meals, sightseeing and entertainment.

The front desk always has the most recent information on last-minute cancellations, so call the resort to make your reservation rather than going via a travel agent, as recommended by travel experts.

Additionally, if you have the gift of gab, you might try to haggle a little. After all, because you are a last-minute guest and there are unoccupied rooms, they might as well give it to you for a lower price rather than leave them vacant and lose out on business.

Be adaptable

Think of unusual hours and days. The strategy increases your alternatives for lodging and frequently results in more affordable costs. For instance, look for lodging that has odd-day openings.

During an exciting road trip, stopping for a shorter time at various locations can provide a varied and interesting holiday experience, allowing you to visit new sites and improve your entire holiday experience.

Making last-minute travel arrangements may be convenient and difficult. Convenient since making a decision will be simpler because there won’t be many options available to you.

One thing to keep in mind when selecting a destination for a last-minute trip is that the closer it is to home, the better, as the second-most crucial consideration when planning any holiday is how to get there.

The key phrase is “choose a destination within the drivable distance”, so you can drive and save money by skipping the expensive last-minute airfare.

Additionally, the excitement of a last-minute holiday will undoubtedly be increased by a spontaneous road trip with family or friends.

Take a look at unexplored areas

Popular places frequently sell out months in advance. Venture outside typical hot spots. There is much more to South Africa than just water, sand and sun. Along with discovering breathtakingly stunning hidden jewels, you and your family will have the opportunity to travel to new and fascinating locations.

Pick family-friendly holiday spots

Choose holiday spots that welcome families and provide a variety of activities for all ages. Even if plans are last-minute, this makes sure that everyone has a fantastic time.

Seek out top-of-the-line discounts

Consult your network of friends, co-workers and family for inexpensive holiday ideas. Remember that purchasing accommodation through a hotel’s website frequently results in more savings than doing so through online travel agents.

Once you’ve decided on your destination, accommodation and mode of transport, most of your work is finished. The excitement and last-minute packing are all that’s left. Take your passport and check your booking confirmations.

Pack your children’s belongings first if you are travelling with them, though a last-minute holiday with children is not the most convenient thing.

Along with their food, clothing and entertainment items, make sure to include their medications. Pack clothes in accordance with the weather at your destination by checking online or asking the hotel travel desk.

Check and refuel your vehicle if you’re driving. Don’t forget your phones and laptops either in case you need to take care of any unfinished business before you leave, including paying bills or doing other urgent tasks.

Keep in mind that this arrangement was last-minute.

When it comes to holiday planning, spontaneity is the flavour of life. Pillay says there is no better time to go on an impromptu trip than right before spring break.