Your family can save money while enjoying exotic locales by looking for last minute vacation deals. While advanced planning may ease your mind about upcoming trips, the best way to get a last minute vacation deal is to keep your schedule flexible.
Skills For Finding Last Minute Travel Deals
Every traveler looking for a last minute travel vacation must be flexible, tech-savvy, and willing to spend time researching deals. A flexible travel schedule means that a traveler can chase flight times, rental car deals, and hotels that may be ignored by finicky vacationers. Budget-conscious travelers can become their own travel agents by bookmarking websites, tracking airline prices, and researching the last travel deals. A true bargain hunter will spend hours at the computer researching last minute travel deals, which can be arduous for harried professionals and parents. These virtues can help any traveler save hundreds of dollars on airfare, hotels, and rental cars each trip.
Traveling At The Right Times
The first step to getting affordable deals on last minute travel plans is learning when to travel during the day. Business travelers heading from one region or coast to another will typically fly out early morning to arrive by early afternoon for meetings. Families traveling to major destinations like Los Angeles, Orlando, and Boston will often book flights on the weekend to navigate around work and school schedules. You can find last minute travel deals by working around these scheduling trends.
You should start your last minute travel plans by looking at flights and hotels on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. These days are typically less expensive for travelers, as service providers are trying to drum up demand through low prices. Last minute travel planners should also look for flights during the dreaded “red-eye” hours in the late night and early morning. These flights are much less expensive than flights during the days, and allow travelers to reach their destinations prior to busy morning traffic.
Last Minute Off-Season Travel Deals
After you have determined the right time to book flights and hotels during the week, you should look for last minute travel deals based on seasonal considerations. Travel agents and individual service providers hike up their rates during periods of heavy travel. College students heading to Fort Lauderdale, Cozumel, and other spring break destinations decrease the available seats on commercial flights, thereby increasing travel costs. Families and professionals traveling during the summer months take up hotel rooms and rental cars in places like Boston, New York City, and Seattle. Your last minute travel deals may hinge on the season in which you plan your next trip.
You should leap on last minute travel deals during the early winter, early fall, and late spring months. The weeks immediately after Christmas and New Years are low points for the travel industry, leading to depressed rates for bargain travelers. The travel industry also tries to attract customers from late March to the end of May after the spring break season has ended. You can also find last minute travel deals between Labor Day and the end of October, as kids go back to school and parents are mired with work.
Direct Flights And Layovers
Your desire to get from your hometown to a vacation destination as quickly as possible is understandable. The pricing structure for the typical airline, however, does not offer the cheapest rates on most direct flights. With the exception of signature direct flights, an airline will offer higher ticket prices on direct flights despite travel season and time of day. You can find last minute travel deals by taking advantage of the low prices for flights that have at least one layover.
You should look at multiple layovers as an opportunity to augment your last minute vacation. If you have never flown into certain cities, you can check out area-specific restaurants and stores within the airport before boarding your next flight. These flights allow you to catch up on reading, speak with travel companions at length, and travel in a more leisurely pace than other vacationers. The multi-layover plan is only effective if you are patient enough to wait around between flights and accept these waits as the price to pay for budget travel.
Flying Into Nearby Cities
A final tip when trying to find a last minute travel deal is to fly into smaller cities and commute to major attractions. The temptation for novice travelers is to fly directly into New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities for vacations. The airports in these cities are incredibly busy year round and frustrate even the most patient travelers because of the volume of travelers each day. You can sidestep a frustrating start to your trip by planning last minute travel deals to smaller airports.
You should look for midsized cities like Milwaukee, Burbank, and Hartford when traveling to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. These cities are within reasonable driving distance of major cities, handle lower volumes each day, and allow travelers to get out of airports very quickly. Your best bet when planning last minute travel is to find nearby airports and hotels close to buses and rail lines connected to major cities. You can find low nightly rates in suburban hotels with plenty of rooms to spare, commute into the city for the day, and return without paying for parking or dealing with road rage.
Online Travel Websites
The Internet has turned last minute travel planning into a competition among airlines, hotel chains, and other service providers for customers. You can leverage this competition in your favor by using travel auction websites like Priceline© (http://www.priceline.com/) and SkyAuction.com© (http://www.skyauction.com/). Priceline© is noted for spokesperson William Shatner and its pricing system that allows users to enter their desired price on hotels, flights, and vacation packages. The “Name Your Own Price”® system helps travelers find last minute travel deals at rates well below face value.
SkyAuction.com© is another travel auction website that is friendly to a traveler's budget. The website's main page breaks down auctions on last minute travel plans into geographical areas for easy perusal. The Auctions Closing Soon section is particularly valuable for travelers trying to book last minute travel deals on the cheap. This section highlights vacation packages and individual travel elements that will go to the highest bidders within 24 hours.