Spend less to take a last minute vacation, even during peak season


Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

It’s coming up on last minute for planning a winter trips, especially since it’s peak season. 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, even during peak season

Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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

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

Aria Hotel, Las Vegas
Aria Hotel, Las Vegas, USA

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

Japanese Hill and Pond, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York

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.

High Park, Toronto, Canada
High Park, Toronto, Canada

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



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