Procrastinators take heart: That summer getaway you dreamed of (but haven’t gotten around to booking) can still be yours. All you need is a computer and a little flexibility. These tips will help you get started.
1. Troll the travel websites.
Sites such as Expedia.com, Priceline.com, and Travelocity.com are treasure troves for last-minute travelers. A few clicks will provide you with the latest transportation and accommodation availability, as well as deals on bundled packages (flight, hotel, car rental) and all-inclusive vacations. Save a few steps by going straight to Kayak.com, which allows you to compare rates, dates, and availability from all of the major travel websites at once.
2. Register for last-minute travel e-mail blasts.
Those same travel websites, and most airlines, offer weekly e-mail newsletters that include up-to-the-minute deals on flights, cruises, hotels, and more. If you’re flexible about where and when you travel, finding a great deal to an exciting destination can be as easy as checking your inbox.
3. Remember the 14-day rule.
If they’re not fully booked, airlines, hotels, and cruise ships often offer significant discounts two weeks in advance of travel. The key is to get both your transportation and accommodations to line up, so the more flexible you can be about arrival and departure dates, the better.
4. Go off-peak.
Airlines and hotels are less crowded on weekdays, particularly Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you can book your arrival and departure during the week, you’ll have more flights and rooms to choose from. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are also the best days for booking last-minute travel, as prices tend to climb as the weekend approaches. (Remember: When booking your hotel, keep in mind that the best deals on many roundtrip flights require a Saturday night stay.)
5. Try for that last-minute house rental.
Despite what real estate brokers might have you believe, vacation rentals can still be found post-Memorial Day. And the good news is, the later the date, the more eager owners are to find renters, and the more likely they’ll be to offer discounts or accommodate requests, such as flexible arrival or check-out times. Be sure to visit vacation rental sites like vrbo.com as well as contact realtors, and consider slightly off-the-beaten-path locations and properties that are further from town or the beach.