||KATE SORENSON, Contributor
When it comes to planning a vacation, you probably operate under the philosophy that the earlier you book, the better prices you’ll get. But this mentality doesn’t always prove true. If you’re willing to wait to plan a trip at the last minute or don’t have much notice, you can actually find great deals — often even better than booking far in advance.
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Before booking, check out CouponCravings.com, which offers coupons and savings tips for finding vacation deals. USA Today Travel gives tips on where to search for the best deals on last-minute vacations.
Visiting online travel sites like Travelocity or Orbitz will help you find great prices on last-minute deals, while search engines like Kayak.com let you compare deals among different sites. Airlines also have websites that frequently offer last-minute deal packages — shop around to find the best deal.
Last-minute travel tips
There are a few general rules to follow when trying to save money by waiting until the last minute to book a trip. First, “last minute” usually means within seven days of departure, so don’t jump the gun. Second, try traveling during the off-season if your schedule allows it. You’ll find more last-minute deals at better prices. Finally, when you arrive at your destination, you can save even more money by searching for cheap attractions. There’s no need to pay upwards of $100 for a tour of a mansion when you can visit some museums for only a few dollars.
Where to go
10 Cheapest Last-Minute Getaways provides a list of several different locations to visit that will offer the best deals, such as Denver and Chicago. By waiting until the last minute for these destinations, you can save a lot of money — visitors who did so when visiting D.C. saved 50 per cent on their hotel costs.
Stay close to home
If you’re just looking for an enjoyable last-minute vacation for the weekend, consider a cheap trip to somewhere local. Shape.com suggests a camping trip as a fun getaway for the whole family. Campgrounds are often cheap and affordable, even at the last minute. Or, try learning a bit of the history of your local area by contacting your tourism office or traveling to a museum.
Last-minute vacation planning doesn’t have to mean accepting outrageous prices. In fact, the deals you can find at this time are often better than the ones offered far in advance, so it could be beneficial to hold off on buying tickets. Shop smart, find the best deals, and be frugal in your planning and you’ll save more than you expect.
Kate Sorenson is a frugal-minded mother of two, always searching for the best possible savings. She knows how difficult it can be to find premium deals on the web so she’s gone ahead and done that, writing articles to help consumers save on a day-to-day basis.
Date Added: July 20, 2012 | Comments (0)
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