6 Last-Minute Vacation Strategies
Call Around About All-Inclusive or Destination Trips
When time is of the essence, one phone call to an all-inclusive or destination resort can result in a fully planned vacation―complete with accommodations, restaurant reservations, activities, and nighttime entertainment. For the best deal, call the resort directly instead of using a travel service, suggests travel expert Marybeth Bond of gutsytraveler.com: The front desk has access to the most recent cancellations and “usually has more flexibility to negotiate prices.”
Trust in Twitter
While you’re catching up on what your college roommate ate for lunch, you can score great deals by following travel-related bloggers and companies that offer discounts via Twitter. Just know that most offers are available in limited quantities, so you’ll have to pounce if something strikes your fancy. A few standout tweeters:
- UnitedAirlines offers low fares (dubbed twares) to its followers.
- JetBlueCheeps tweets about cheap last-minute flights (cheeps) every Monday.
- Rickseaney, the CEO of farecompare.com, lets his followers in on air travel specials before they hit the big travel sites.
- Getatraveldeal features exclusive discounts found by blogger Sylvia of getatraveldeal.com.
- Quikbook reveals discount hotel rates.
Sign up for Free E-newsletters
Instead of spending hours surfing for a deal, swim over to travel sites and sign up for weekly last-minute deal emails. Kara Williams, who blogs under the moniker MountainMama on travelingmamas.com, suggests TravelZoo.com’s Top 20 Travel Deals and ShermansTravel.com’s Top 25. “You’ll receive the emailed newsletters before the information goes live on the sites,” she says. That way, you get first dibs on the deals.
Take Advantage of Adventure Tour Cancellations
If you want a little R&R (rafting and rock climbing) out of your vacation, it’s not too late to join a group. Even if the tour you want is full, “often there are last-minute cancellations due to injuries or people simply backing out, so call the company and ask to be put on a cancellation list,” says Beth Blair, who blogs as DesertMama on travelingmamas.com. Also, visit outdoortrips.info, which lists last-minute deals on everything from safaris to snorkeling. Find one that entices you, and click through to the excursion guide's site to book.
Haggle for a Rental Home
Take advantage of vacation home vacancies by suggesting a fee lower than the owner’s asking price. “After all, the owner would rather his home be rented than sit empty,” says Williams. Search for a condominium or rental home on homeaway.com. The website―an index of 176,000 rental properties―has a “Travel Deals” area for special offers. Another tip: Consider renting a home in a town next to your destination―accommodations may be easier to secure and more affordable.
Plan a Mid-Week Camping Trip
Campsites fill up on Friday and Saturday nights, says Williams. So, for your pick of the tent and RV sites, kick off your family trip on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. To find a campground, visit the National Park Service site and click on “Find a Park.” Once you’ve chosen a spot, go to “Plan Your Visit” for fees and reservation details, directions, and information on activities and guided tours. If you have crabby teens who’d complain about roughing it in the woods with Mom and Dad, pick a place that even they can get excited about―like Washington’s Olympic National Park near Forks, where the Twilight book series is set.