How to Take Advantage of Last Minute Vacations
Stop what you’re doing right now, and ask yourself: Is there anywhere else you’d rather be at this moment? How about trekking through a forested mountain range, knowing that you’re going to be at the peak of the mountain by lunch time to enjoy that incredible view? Or sitting outside a restaurant in Mexico enjoying a refreshing drink with a friend? How about reading a great novel under a beach umbrella after water-skiing all morning? The scenarios are endless – and they’re all just a click away when you learn how to take advantage of last minute vacations. Will you be walking the foggy streets of London next weekend, or perhaps you’ll be sun bathing in the Bahamas? If you’re looking for last minute vacations, you might not even know where you’re going until it’s time to go!
Last Minute Vacations Rule #1: Be Flexible
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you’re opting for last minute vacations, is that you absolutely have to be flexible! Flexible on time of day, flexible on days of the week, flexible on accommodations, and yes: flexible on destinations.
Flights leaving very early in the morning can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than a flight leaving at a much more human time of day, and it might mean that you don’t get a wink of sleep the night before. If you’re pumped for your vacation and your plane departs at 5am, and you have to be at the airport in plenty of time to go through customs… chances are you’ll be less than refreshed feeling when you get to your destination. But if it means the difference of hundreds of bucks, it’s well worth it to many travelers! Try to sneak in a nap before you have to leave, and be sure to set your alarm! Bring along ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones so you can rest your eyes a little easier while you’re en route, and even plan for a nap once you get to your destination if you need to. The bottom line is you’ll be grabbing a flight for much less when you take advantage of last minute vacations that leave at unconventional times of day.
Being flexible on dates is extremely important, and fortunately most flight and hotel travel web sites recognize this by offering an option to select from a range of different available dates when searching for last minute vacations online. Instead of seeing only the date range you’ve entered, you can choose from dates before and after, which might give you a much better deal. Be flexible on your departing and return dates, and you could end up saving a bundle. Busier days of the week can end up costing you a fortune for the exact same vacation you would be taking if you left a day or two earlier – or held off a couple of days.
Last minute vacations can be fun, thrilling, spontaneous and exciting! You might not even know where you’re going to be until shortly before you leave – and if you play your cards right, you’ll end up saving a fortune. You don’t have to give up quality to save money on last minute vacations, but you might have to sacrifice something else: being set in your ways! If you’re used to staying with a certain hotel chain and you don’t like to stray, you might want to re-think your game plan when opting for last minute vacations. Quite often travel companies will offer package deals on terrific last minute vacations including air fare and hotel, and to take advantage of the offer you just have to go with the flow. You might find out that you actually prefer the accommodations you end up in! Last minute vacations may be cheaper but they don’t skimp on the quality – you simply need to be able to grab that deal when it’s laid out on the table, and see where it takes you.
Being flexible is key when hunting for last minute vacations, and this applies to your destination as well! If you want a sunny destination on a beach, you can have a sunny destination on a beach – just keep an open mind. A resort in Spain might be what you’ve been dreaming about, but a resort in the Dominican Republic might be half the price and just as much fun in the sun. The idea is to not hold on too strongly to the perfect destination idea but to actually use that idea as inspiration. Want a romantic vacation in France? You can find similar old world beauty much closer to home if you’re living in North America, by traveling to Montréal or Québec City in Canada for the weekend. The cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages and beautiful old European architecture will make for an incredibly memorable vacation for a fraction of the cost of traveling overseas. Still not sold? Pore over last minute vacations listings for a variety of European destinations and take your pick!
Last Minute Vacations Rule #2: Be Ready
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of looking for the next great destination you’d love to be spending your vacation at, but are you ready to leave at a moment’s notice? Preparing for last minute vacations is easy, so long as you have a few key things in order!
Have your passport up to date. If your passport is valid but close to expiration within the next few months, you should consider having it renewed as soon as possible. Some situations require for you to have a valid passport that will remain valid for the next few months. It’s better to be safe than sorry – so make sure your passport is good to go, and then stowed in a safe place! Don’t risk having to turn your house upside down at the very last minute, searching for a passport that has gotten misplaced. Same goes for any other important travel documents you might need. Have them updated, and stored safely.
Get current on any vaccinations you might require, and have a physical check up with a doctor. Make sure any dental appointments are up to date. You don’t want to be stuck with a surprise toothache in a country you aren’t familiar with. Make sure any prescription medication you will need to bring with you has been filled for the amount of time you will be gone, and have it stored safely as well, in a place you won’t forget to bring it with you. Tie up any loose ends with responsibilities around your home – do you have a friend who can pop by to water any plants and grab your mail for you if you need them to next week? How about pets – does your dog, cat or fish have a pet sitter available if you need one? Don’t wait until the last minute to scramble desperately for some sketchy person you barely know through Facebook to come feed your cat – have a couple of neighbours and friends’ names handy so you can call on them if you need to, and make your last minute vacations run a little more smoothly!
If last minute vacations are the name of the game, let your employer know that you’re planning on making yourself scarce ahead of time – even if you haven’t finalized plans yet. Don’t wait until you know you’re going to be in Florida tomorrow night to call in to work and tell them you’re taking a vacation. Just because the vacation itself is last minute, doesn’t mean your plans have to be. Last minute vacations operate a little backwards. Book the time off and get your ducks in order before committing to the final step of the process: figuring out where you’re going to go!
Have your basic essentials ready. Your luggage, your carry-on, any clothes you know you’re going to bring, batteries and chargers, non-perishable snacks. The idea is to plan ahead so you aren’t making a mad dash to find everything once your vacation is finalized.
Last Minute Vacations Rule #2: Be Savvy
When you’re looking to book last minute vacations, it’s all going to boil down to knowing how to actually score these amazing tickets-to-paradise. If you’re feeling like being spontaneous and reaping a full-price vacation’s worth of experiences for a half-price vacation’s price tag, you’re going to need to know where to begin looking.
Lucky for us, flight and hotel travel web sites almost always offer significant discounts on last minute vacations. You’re guaranteed to score big time on sunny jaunts to Mexico and Florida when you’re in North America, as well as select European destinations.
Track trends in flight costs using websites such as Matrix Airfare Serarch at http://matrix.itasoftware.com to understand patterns in airline prices and know when to strike when the tickets are cheap. You might discover that the forecast for next week’s airfare is going to be considerably cheaper than it is now, and decide to hold off on making that travel decision for a few more days. Use web sites like www.Kayak.com to plunder through hundreds of travel sites at once to bring last minute vacations to life; set air fare alerts and plan ahead. Google Flights is impressive and informative, and will map out prices over a several month time span so you can visualize how much you would be saving by holding off or buying tickets now. You can find them at www.google.com/flights.
Keep your eye on websites such as www.Hotwire.com and www.SelloffVacations.com.
These are popular travel web sites, and they are the kind of places you’re going to want to be keeping a sharp eye on. There will be an updated list of last minute vacations available, and your job is simply to make the call when you see something that suits your budget, timeframe, and idea of a good time.
Last minute travel insurance can be purchased up to 24 hours from departure from a variety of travel insurance companies. Make the call or visit them online as soon as possible, because the longer you wait to arrange for your travel insurance, the less you might be covered for.
Follow these rules, and you’ll have the perfect last minute vacation in the bag. Get all your ducks in a row. Take care of passports and important paperwork now! Remember to use your ideal destination as a muse. You desire a holiday in the mountains? Find out which flights and hotel packages are the cheapest right now, and which ones will be best to hold off on. You want to go to a certain tropical beach? Travel web sites are brimming with last minute vacations to tropical destinations, and you just might stumble upon your next favourite place in the world.
For more ways to prepare your vacation, visit the Travel Planning category.