Tips for Booking a Last-Minute TripSometimes you just need a vacation -- NOW! Tips and resources for finding a last-second trip:
Think off-season The deepest discounts on travel will be for places that are "off-season"-say, wintertime in Chicago, or late summer in the Caribbean. If a getaway for you isn't about escaping the weather, you'll be rife with options.
Be flexible with your days A weekend trip that leaves Saturday and comes back Monday or Tuesday will be cheaper than one that leaves Friday and comes back Sunday, and a weeklong trip that leaves Wednesday and returns Tuesday will be a lot cheaper than a trip that starts and ends on the weekend.
Related: Travel Sites that Minimize Planning Time
Sign up for e-newsletters that offer great last-minute deals. Travelzoo.com and airfarewatchdog.com (two of my favorite travel sites), as well as all the sites listed below, send out deal-packed e-mails that may set your travel bug buzzing.
To find discounts on...
Flights: Check out your fave airline sites (these usually post weekend deals on Tuesday or Wednesday) as well as consolidators such as CheapOAir.com to see the airfare offerings for the coming weekend or the next.
Hotels: Hotels.com has an easily searchable last-minute section, and LastMinuteTravel.com specializes in "undercover" hotels -- you book the discount rate for, say, a four-star hotel before it reveals the actual hotel name; this leap of faith can save you up to 65 percent off the regular rates.
Related: More Vacation for Less Money
Packages: Check out the deal sections on big sites like Priceline.com's Pricebreakers. Targeted smaller sites also have hard-to-beat bargains on packages, whether you need a flight and hotel, hotel and car, flight and car, or all three. One to try: the aptly named lastminute.com's Last Second Deals.
Cruise Deals: CruiseDirect.com and VacationstoGo.com offer the best of the sea, including one-night options like Norwegian's overnight "Cruise to Nowhere" that leaves from and returns to New York City.
For additional vacation tips, be sure to read more of our advice on booking discount travel.
What are your tricks for saving money when booking a vacation? Let me know in the comments.
- by Amy Roberts
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