Vacation season is just around the corner. Although many of us like to plan trips ahead of time, plenty others have the procrastination gene, or simply enjoy a spontaneous getaway now and then. Last-minute planning can lead to higher costs; but you’ll be able to save some cash by following the tips below.
Frantically Finagling Flights
Before you can relax at that beachside resort, you need to figure out a way to get there. Booking a flight can get more and more expensive as the departure date approaches, but with a few tricks and patience, you can get some great deals.
· Timing is everything. Book your flights in the middle of the week. Airlines announce sales on Tuesday mornings that last through Thursday. The closer you can get to booking on a Tuesday morning, the better.
· If you have any control over your departure and return dates, depart on a Saturday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and return on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Fewer people travel on these days. Airlines would rather have people paying a low rate for seats that would otherwise be empty.
· Be flexible. Not being tied into any specific travel dates will help you find better last-minute rates. This includes varying your length of stay, compromising on airport location, or leaving at an odd hour of the day.
· Don’t hesitate when you do find a good deal. Last-minute deals go fast—by the hour, in some cases. You could easily miss out on a great deal looking for a better one.
· Waive travel insurance. You’re booking your trip last minute, so you’re probably well-aware of weather conditions and the health of your party. However, if you’re traveling out of the country, you may want to purchase basic medical coverage.
· If online travel sites are proving fruitless results, consider calling an airline representative directly. You can bargain with the representative and potentially negotiate a cheaper price. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know, right?
Keep in mind that purchasing last-minute tickets online almost always yields the lowest price. Be aware of any fine print as well. Many sites have booking fees or hidden costs.
Hurried Hotel Havoc
You’ve booked your flight, so now you’re in the clear, right? Unless you’re lucky enough to stay with a friend or family member in the area, you must still sort out your hotel accommodations.
· As with the flight, be flexible with the type of accommodations you want. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to settle with the one-star, flea-ridden motel room. Make do with what you find. If, for example, the only room available is a single for your entire family, ask if hotel officials can set up cots or roll-away beds.
· Find out all the hotels that are in the area you intend to stay and contact each one directly. Many hotels don’t publish their last-minute rates online. The hotel manager may offer you a deal if you agree to take the room immediately. Remember that hotel managers want their rooms filled and are willing to work with you to book that room, which means potential discounts.
· A hotel in the middle of the downtown area will cost more than one just outside the city. Consider staying a little farther from your intended destination, especially if the area has plentiful and reliable public transportation. You can save a lot of money on accommodations if you’re willing to take a short ride on the bus or train each day.
· Ask about AAA discounts, state resident discounts, and any other offers you might be eligible for. You’d be surprised at the discounts you can get just by asking.
· As with booking a flight, timing is everything. Hotels aren’t always as predictable as flights though and depend on where you’re staying, the season, and other factors. Las Vegas, for instance, is popular for weekend leisure, so reserving a hotel for the middle of the week is cheaper. However, other major cities that see frequent business travelers will have cheaper hotel rooms on weekends.
· Look into package deals. Many online travel sites have last-minute deals that include airfare, hotel accommodations, and even car rentals or airport parking like Airport Parking Connection. Find LGA parking, MCI parking, MCO parking deals for your entire stay.
Hopefully these tips will help you in your last-minute travels. Good luck, and bon voyage!