Long week? Slow week? Rainy, dismal, snowy, hot, crowded, dull week… whatever it is, sometimes we just need to get out of town. Now. And you can! As long as you can get your life in order to leave, there’s no reason to stick around.
It sounds great, but can you afford to just jet off? Well, you can and you can’t. You have to know how to find deals, and you have to be willing to do a little extra legwork. More work, yes, but soon enough you’re going to have an affordable vacation on the docket. Get excited.
Make a Plan
You need to really know how much money you’re willing to spend. When you hunt, sometimes it’s hard not to get tempted into buying something you can’t actually afford. Everyone has a different budget, so be strong when find a great deal that’s just too much money. So first, make a budget. Think about flight, hotel, car rental, and food. Everything else is negotiable. But these are your prime expenses. Don’t blow all your money on a first-class flight so you end up staying in a roach motel. It’s a good idea to prioritize where you’d like to spend money and where you don’t mind roughing it a little bit.
It’s a little tedious, but you need to be an internet troll. You probably already knew that, but it’s important to keep your finger on the mouse, just in case that dream vacation makes itself inexplicably affordable. Search wide, and often.
Look at deal sites like lastminute.com for flights and cheapcaribbean.com for island trips. Hotel deals are plentiful on hotels.com and booking.com. Just remember that the price you pay is final. There’s no cancelling the trip or getting an upgrade when you use third party sites. But, you got a good deal so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Airlines often have inexpensive flights that they post last minute. These are preferable since you have a bit more flexibility as far as upgrades go. So be sure to check their sites, too.
It’s a good idea to set up some alerts so you can do things like work or take care of your family, or really anything. Fare alerts show up when a fare to your desired destination drops. You can set them for hotels and airfare. If you have any kind of reward program make sure to input that information – you might get an even better discount.
The trick is to be able to leave at the turn of a dime. You also need to be flexible about what you want from your travel. That can range from what time of day you’d like to fly, to what kind of hotel you prefer, or where it’s located. The dates are the biggest factor, here, so prepare to leave on Tuesday if that’s the best flight. Thursday is a better day to fly, that’s true, and everyone else who’s paying a higher rate thinks so, too. You need to be okay with a less than perfect plan.
A good idea is to clear out a block of time and hunt for those dates. Don’t be picky, but know what you want. You can find a great trip as long as you have an open mind.
To get truly great last minute deals, go to a destination when no one else is visiting. Off season rates are lower, and to fill in empty rooms hotels often offer low last minute rates. Car rentals work this way, too.
One thing to consider if you go this route is why it’s the low season, and if that’s a deal breaker. If you want a beach vacation and it’s only fifty degrees at your destination, it’s probably not a great trip for you. Maybe it’s really rainy – some cities lend themselves to rain just fine. Bring a raincoat and an umbrella. When considering a low season trip, ask the hotel if anything shuts down during this time – many stores close up shop since no one’s there to visit.
When it comes to travel fees, nothing is static, and everything is subject to flux. Last minute deals are a minor act of desperation. A lower room rate at a hotel is better than an empty room, for a hotelier. It’s harder with big chain corporations, although you should always try, but with smaller hotels, you can negotiate your rate. Get breakfast thrown in, or internet, or parking, or maybe a pass to the gym down the street. Work the system!
Travel is expensive, but if you can be flexible with your plans and be a hawk for online deals, it’s possible to book an amazing last minute trip at a fraction of its regular cost. What about you? Have you ever booked an incredible last minute trip?