Planning a last minute travel excursion can be exciting and fun. It can also cause a lot of stress and cost you a lot of money if you don’t know where to look for the best deals to make it happen. Knowing the ins and outs of travel planning and some tips for last minute travel can help you make the most of that last minute trip. When planning any trip, last minute or not, you need some patience and a strategy. The trick is not to look at the “when, where, how, and what” as a checklist. You’ll have to decide on these things interactively. In other words, you should try a number of combinations of different options before you decide what the best overall trip would be.
First and foremost, the key to a stress-free last minute trip is to be flexible. When you’re flexible with your plans, you will be surprised what you can find. Do some research with your travel dates, destinations, modes of transportation, accommodations, and entertainment in different combinations. Start with an open mind and consider these things.
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TRY THESE TIPS FOR LAST MINUTE TRAVEL
DECIDE WHEN YOU WILL TRAVEL
Avoid Holidays if Possible
If your last minute trip is centered around a holiday don’t worry, you can still make it work. But if it’s not, you’ll be much better off finding the best price and availability in both travel and accommodations. So if you have the option, choose to avoid taking a trip during or around a holiday.
Check Out Peak Travel Time For Different Destinations
Every place will have peak and off-peak times and a lot of them will be different. This can vary based on the weather in that location, annual and one-time promotions, the school year, the “snow-bird” or seasonal living population, and other variables. A quick Google search will tell you all you need to know about your destination’s peak and off-peak times.
Be Strategic When Planning the Days You Will Travel
Unless you’re driving your own car, mid-week travel is cheaper to most locations when flying, taking a bus, train, or rental car. More people want to travel on Mondays, Fridays or weekends so prices are higher. If you can be flexible with the days you choose, leaving and returning on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will save you some money.
On the other hand, when traveling to some places, like New York for example, it might be cheaper to travel on the weekends. New York has a higher rate of travel in and out during the week for business. Other locations might be cheaper on the weekends for other reasons. Do your research.
Remember the 14-Day Window.
When airlines, hotels, and cruise lines are not fully booked 14 days out from departure date or special events you can potentially find some pretty good discounted rates. These deals can sometimes leave you in better shape financially than if you had booked way ahead of time. Keep in mind, this is not good a reason to wait to book if you have plenty of time. This is really just a tip for last minute travel. A rate decrease and availability are not guaranteed. But it is definitely something to look into if you are in a situation where you’re planning last minute.
DECIDE WHERE YOU WILL TRAVEL
Be Willing to Budge on Your Destination.
If you’ve already set your heart on a destination when you decide to do some last minute traveling, you might be disappointed to find that it’s not doable. Maybe it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg or maybe there is no availability for transportation or accommodations. Remember, one of the most important tips for last minute travel is being flexible. If you can’t make a destination work at the moment, don’t worry. Chances are you can make it work at another time, maybe with a little more planning. For now, focus on what you can do. Look into destinations you’ve never considered. You might be surprised by what you find that you might enjoy just as much or even more.
Shift Back and Forth Between When and Where
Sometimes your when will affect how much your where will cost and sometimes it will be the other way around. This speaks to the peak and off-peak seasons mentioned above. Once you decide when you’re going to travel, take your first destination idea and check the prices. After that, change your when up a little (if you can) and see if that makes a difference in the price. Then try that with other destinations. Finding the best prices are going to take a little work so do not give up after the first search results. Go back and forth between when and where until you’ve found the best combination to fit what you’re looking for.
DECIDE HOW YOU WILL TRAVEL
Look Into Different Types of Transportation
Some of the fun of being flexible for last minute trips is trying things you might not have considered otherwise. Maybe you can find a train ticket to and from your destination for a much better price than a flight. Maybe you could consider a bus. Even a train to your destination and a bus or rental car home could be a good option. Those forms of transportation which are used less often tend to be less expensive. It’s simple supply and demand.
Consider Budget Airlines
If you can be flexible with your travel days, check out budget airlines like Allegiant Air or Spirit who cut costs by not offering all the frills of a typical airline. For instance, your carry on luggage won’t be included in your ticket price, they only fly on certain days, and only in and out of certain airports. If you can work around those things, their round trip costs can be around 50% cheaper than their bigger competitors even with the cost of luggage.
DECIDE WHERE YOU WILL STAY
Bundle Hotel With Your Flights or Book Directly Through Hotels
If you decide flying is your best option, price the hotel + flight bundle then call the hotel directly to see if you can get a better price one-on-one with them. Do not mention the bundle price, just ask for their rates for the dates of your stay. Ask if they have any special rates during or around the time you’re thinking of traveling. Then compare all of your options before booking your flight in case the bundle is cheaper.
Be Open to Unfamiliar Types of Accommodations
Airbnb is still new to a lot of people and you might hesitate to give it a try, but for the price, it is worth looking into. It is basically a marketplace for people to list their personal property for people who are looking for an often less expensive and different experience than the hotel experience we are used to. You get to stay in cool, new places that are cozy and similar to a bed and breakfast, sometimes unattended, sometimes attended.
Consider Staying Right Outside of Town or a Little Further From Attractions
This is a trick that will work in your favor if the cost of transportation to and from the attractions you want to see is cheap enough to save you money. Sometimes it’s worth a little extra toward accommodations because transportation is expensive. But if you’re going somewhere that has a subway you’ll be able to travel back and forth for decent savings. Uber and Lyft are also great options, depending on how far you’ll be going. Make sure you not only consider cost but also the time in this situation. Another big tip for last minute travel is that sometimes you splurge on a couple of things and sacrifice on others. If your trip is going to be a quick one this might be a sacrifice you don’t want to make.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL DO FOR FUN
Groupon is an awesome tool for planning because it has great deals for fun stuff that can be researched and, if you choose, bought ahead of time. Before you even book your vacation you can check out what Groupons are available in that area for food and fun to see what you’re options will be. That will help you decide on a destination as well.
Look Into Local Historical Sites
This final tip for last minute travel is helpful because historical sites are always an option, no matter where you’re traveling. Every place you go has a history and not only can it be really interesting to learn about it, it is also usually free or very low cost. Take in that history and the culture for a deeper and more profound experience wherever you go.
No matter what kind of last minute trip you decide on, vacations are meant to be a source of release and relaxation. Whatever that means for you, it’s a time to recharge. Be sure to focus more on the experience you end up with than the experience you might have had if you had more time to plan. The gift is always in the present.
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