Ways to travel last minute without breaking the bank

Venetian Hotel in Vegas

Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas before Christmas a few years ago. Last minute booking. Totally worth it!

I frequently go on a last business minute trips. Luckily most of the details are taken care of through work, but that’s not always the case for most people. Sometimes you just don’t get around to planning the trip that you desperately need. Or you get some time off that you weren’t expecting, but who would say no? Whatever the case, now and then you don’t have much time to plan your vacation.

If you find yourself looking last-minute for somewhere to go, don’t worry, there are some ways you can manage a great last minute trip without spending a fortune.

Scan travel sites

Travel sites are valuable for searching for last minute availability and deals. You can also find deals on bundled packages, flight, hotel, car rental, and all-inclusive vacations. Sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak compare the rates and availability from all of the major travel sites (ExpediaPricelineTravelocity) so you don’t have to check one at a time.

Look at off-peak times

Peak season and weekends are the toughest times to find flights, rooms, and deals. If you’re going at the same time as everyone else, then there will be less availability, and you’ll pay higher prices.

Some peak travel times are winter, March break or any time that kids are out of school.

Everything is easier and cheaper if you’re willing to leave and come back on a weekday. For the most part, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best for availability and pricing (but not always depending on your location and the time of year).

Avoid flying out on a Friday and back on a Sunday, sometimes weekend getaways are more expensive than expected.

Be flexible about your travels

Four Seasons in Maui, Hawaii

All inclusive resorts have their appeal too, like this one in Maui, Hawaii

When it comes to vacationing at the last minute, you’re probably going to have to be a bit flexible about the location unless you don’t mind how much money you spend. For example, some countries have different peak seasons so you may find deals if you go somewhere that is their off-season but a good time for you to travel.

You can also get deals on all-inclusive packages and cruises at the last minute. Neither may be your ideal vacation style, but a destination is a destination, and it is time away from work or school. How bad does that truly sound?

The two weeks’ rule

When not fully booked, airlines, hotels, and cruise ships often offer huge discounts two weeks before the travel date. It’s important to get your transportation and accommodations to line up so you can be more flexible about your arrival and departure dates.

Sign up for e-alerts

Travel sites and most airlines have e-alerts that include last minute deals on flights, cruises, hotels, and transportation. If you’re flexible about where and when you travel, finding a great deal can be as easy as checking your messages.

If all else fails – staycation

Central Park in the springtime

There’s always beauty at home, like Central Park, New York in the Spring

Can a staycation satisfy your need to get away? Maybe not as much as a destination trip would, but it can do the job in a pinch. While it might not seem like a vacation when you’re in your city; it’s easy to make it feel like you’re away. If you live in a smaller place, it’s harder, especially if you can run into anyone at any given moment, but it still may be manageable. Some tips:

  • Don’t let anyone know you’re staying home. You don’t want to be called in for something at work, or to help someone move, or whatever comes up on a regular basis. Pretend you’re away. You don’t have to lie either. Tell everyone it’s a secret, and you’ll let them know when your vacation’s over.
  • Tour your hometown like you’re away. See the sites, take lots of photos, dress like you’re away and try things you’ve never done before, or haven’t done in a long time. If you risk being seen, do it during off hours!
  • If you can, stay somewhere else other than your home. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, airbnb, and couchsurfing are all ways to do it, even if it’s for just one night.
Botanic Garden

Japanese Hill and Pond at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

These are my ideas for planning a last-minute getaway. What are some of yours?

55 replies »

  1. Very well written Aldo! Having an open mind is key to a getting last minute vacation. I find that people who limit their destinations end up paying a fortune or complain if it’s a staycation. You are right that staycations can be worthwhile. Everyone needs to be prepared for all situations when it comes to last minute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot Marko! It is true the cost is just so much higher if you focus on specific places. And home is filled with lots of things we don’t necessarily experience on a daily basis, depending on where someone lives. Enjoy your weekend!


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