Are you headed on a last minute vacation? Afraid that you won’t be able to manage all of the things needed at the last minute? We have some great tips to help you make your last minute vacation a wonderful success. Even when it happens in just a day or less!
7 Last Minute Vacation Planning Tips
Last minute vacation planning really isn’t planning is it? You can, however, make a few things come together in those last weeks or days before you depart. Just because you make the choice to hit the road unexpectedly, doesn’t mean you have to pay too much or feel disorganized. Some of these tips are going to save you money, and others will easily save your sanity when you hit the road at the last minute.
Name your own price. The biggest question for most when planning a last minute vacation is how to save money on things like flights, hotels, or even rental cars. By far, one of the best ways to get a great rate is to use that only booking site that is famous for telling you to name your own price. However, this method can be hard to manage the type of flight or hotel you want.
When you name your own price, you do leave it up to the site to pick what matches your requirements best. This could leave you with a great price, but lousy seats on a flight. It could also leave you taking a flight with bad departure times or multiple layovers. When it comes to hotels, you may end up staying in a location that isn’t so savory.
When you name your own price, look at the details available and options that already fit your price range before you hit that final button. Saving $5-$10 may not be worth the chance you take of being given a flight or hotel that will leave you uncomfortable and frustrated during our vacation.
Don’t pick the go-to location. If you suddenly find out you have time off and can take a last minute vacation, don’t pick that ultimate fun location. Instead, pick something off the beaten path. Last minute vacations at places like Disneyland, Hawaii, or even New York City can be extremely expensive. There are many popular destinations that you truly need to plan in advance to visit.
Instead of heading to the popular travel destination, look at some of the lesser known vacation destinations. Smaller cities, rural areas, beach resorts, and places that aren’t associated with a theme park are great. Even visiting places within your own home state can be a great budget-friendly last minute vacation idea that everyone enjoys. Look for landmarks, historical places, or smaller areas to visit at the last minute to have fun, be away from crowds, and of course, ultimately save money.
Call the hotel or airline directly. While you can find great deals online, sometimes the best option is simply to pick up the phone and talk to a person who has all of the options available at their fingertips. You can almost always get a better rate on last minute hotels, flights, and even rental calls by contacting directly.
Ask about any current specials, deals for military or students, and even mention any clubs or associations you are a part of that could bring you a discount. If you work for a business, newspaper, website, or blog, you may even be able to grab a media rate at the last minute to discount your price even more.
Use the hotel concierge. When you arrive at you last minute vacation destination, don’t hesitate to ask the hotel concierge or staff for help. Not only will they be able to give you those often needed personal recommendations and directions, they can also inform you of local places with discounts, great Happy Hour locations, or even the best free things to do in the community.
You may also find hotel staff helpful if you forgot something at home. Almost every motel and hotel chain have a few items like toiletries on hand for you to grab if needed. More upscale locations will even go shopping for you if you forget a specific brand or item. Just remember that tipping may not be required but is highly recommended and appreciated.
Contact your destination Chamber of Commerce. There is no better way to get to know an area and the best it has to offer than talking to the locals. One of the best ways to do this is to check out the local destination Chamber of Commerce website or even give them a call. They may have a welcome package you can pick up when you arrive in the area, or simply be willing to give you their top tips on places to stay and things to do.
One of the best finds we have discovered through the area Chamber of Commerce is that many local businesses will include coupons for great discounts inside of the Chamber of Commerce packages. Stopping by when you arrive into town can truly save you a ton on the expenses of area attractions and restaurant expenses.
Use travel apps to keep track of everything. One thing that is more popular in recent years is the existence of great travel apps. Last minute vacation planning often means you don’t have a lot of extra time for research, planning, and even typing up an itinerary. Instead, you can use the many travel apps that are great for helping you keep track and find the best deals.
I keep the following apps on my phone for this reason: Evernote, Google Maps, Gas Buddy, Priceline, Southwest Airlines, Yelp, and TripCase. These all work great for helping find locations, find the best deals, find the best prices, and keep notes on locations, costs, and hours of operation as needed.
Keep your luggage travel ready. When you arrive home from any vacation, make sure you take the time to prep your luggage for your next vacation. For us, this means unpacking everything but also packing those travel toiletries and similar items back into the bag.
Things to put back into your luggage for future use:
- Extra laundry bags
- Contact information
- Emergency paperwork or list of emergency contacts
- Lightweight jacket
- Extra chargers for electronics
As you get ready for a last minute vacation, keep our tips in mind to help make your trip not only fun, but easy and budget-friendly. Just because a trip happens at the last minute doesn’t mean it can’t be an amazing experience for all involved.