Rhodes trip: cheap breaks to the isle are available

Be flexible with the "four Ds" - day of the week, departure airport, departure time and destination

The mass-market travel industry makes most of its money in late July and August. This summer, the spike in prices is even more pronounced because of the tragedy in Tunisia. Around 200,000 people who had booked holidays there are looking elsewhere.

For a short-notice family holiday in the sun, set your expectations realistically. The benchmark prices here are for a week's package holiday: flights and accommodation from a single provider.

For a family of two adults and two under-12s, paying less than £300 per person is extremely rare in late July and August. Holidays under £400 are likely to involve basic self-catering accommodation.

To be able to annoy everyone else around the pool with how little you paid, be flexible with the "four Ds": day of the week, departure airport, departure time and destination.

Flying out midweek tends to be cheaper. Our survey of deals for the week ahead reveals a range of airports for the cheapest deals: Bristol, Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow and Stansted. The Algarve, Balearics and Canaries have some bargains, as does Mediterranean Turkey and some Greek islands.

The best way to find a bargain is to ask a good travel agent. But to get a sense of prices, see what thomson.co.uk and thomascook.com are offering. Bear in mind that Thomson's deals usually include transfers and baggage, while Thomas Cook's don't.

Thomson has been offering Manchester-Tenerife, Stansted-Zante and Gatwick-Crete in the low £300s, while Bristol-Algarve, Glasgow-Dalaman and Manchester-Rhodes are around £350 with Thomas Cook.