Go ahead, take the trip! Pulling off a last-minute vacation is more feasible than you might think.
You’re feeling spontaneous and need to skip town — preferably next weekend or next month. A last-minute vacation is more feasible than you think. Here’s how to fulfill your wanderlust on demand.
1. Be Flexible-with dates and destination.
Sunday can be one of the more expensive days to fly, but moving your return to a Monday or Tuesday can make a big difference in price — or, try dates for two weeks later and compare.
Length of stay matters too, some hotels require a 5 or 7-night stay so keep that in mind.
Locations with larger tourism have more availability and better last-minute deals than those exotic hard to reach places.
But, that's not to say that you can't find an amazing deal for next week to those off-the-beaten path destinations. Have your MDV agent look for you, you never know what she will find!
2. Check flights first.
If you can pack up the car and drive to your destination within a few hours, great. But for those thinking more far-flung, be sure to check out flights before booking that (non-refundable) last-minute hotel room. Flight availability can be an issue or the prices can be more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates.
3. Outsource the Planning
Disney, Hawaii, Mexico? Not all destinations are created equal and, even with limited lead time, a travel pro can help match you with the right fit-often at an unadvertised rate.
Some requests may require a small fee to expedite those last-minute plans (and make a few urgent phone calls on your behalf), but it will give you peace of mind that your vacation has been vetted. We also may be able to pull some strings so that hotels know who you are before you get there. Hello, upgrade?!
4. Note What is Non-Refundable
Most hotels have a cancellation policy of anywhere from 24 hours to 7 to 21 days in advance. For last-minute jaunts, your reservation may have to be paid in full up front. If there’s a still a chance you might come down with an illness in the week before you leave, or if your boss may not approve those last-minute vacation days, consider travel protection insurance. Your Travel Advisor can assist you with this, if needed.
5. Set Expectations
It’s important to not have expectations too rigid when you are booking last-minute travel. Having a detailed plan for what you want to do will cloud the possibilities that can come from spontaneous travel. Sometimes it’s the last-minute adventures where you have little planned that end up being the best, so don’t get too bent out of shape if plans change.
Be open to different opportunities that may arise before and during your trip. Just because it’s not what you had laid out in your head, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be just as amazing, if not better. If you are booking last-minute, you are probably already a pretty easy-going, spontaneous individual, because if you weren’t you would have had things planned months ago. Not being too picky is ideal in this situation.
6. Don't Travel in Peak Season
Booking last minute travel in peak season is generally a very bad idea. Prices will likely be high no matter what, with high demand leaving little room for discounts. Hotels are likely booked up and prices for tours are hiked as well. To be honest, it’s a bit of a recipe for disaster for last minute travel unless by some fluke you get insanely lucky.
Alternatively, if you look for deals during low season or shoulder season, this is when airlines and hotels will offer deals because there is a low demand for travel and they want to fill up spots. Travelling in off season will also provide discounts on car rentals, activities, and pretty much everything else. And bonus, there are less people around.
7. Use last-minute travel for fun trips, not crucial trips
Last-minute travel isn’t appropriate if you’re set on a particular type of suite in a specific type of accommodation at a particular location at your destination, or if you must travel during specific dates. If everything has to be perfect for your honeymoon, babymoon or spring break getaway, book ahead instead.
8. Pack Smarter
Since you don't have a lot of time to shop and prep for your last-minute trip, you will need to pack smarter.
Beach trips are easy, throw some swim suites, t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops in your bag and go! City trips require a bit more planning but still can be easy. Stick with neutral basics in the same color family to make packing easier. Having one color scheme in your suitcase will help you decide what to wear each day on your trip.
You really only need two pairs of shoes, one for day and one for night. No need to bring your entire closet for a last-minute getaway.
For toiletries, grab this travel set from Amazon that ships the next day. It's the perfect size for carry-ons and makes it easy to pack.
9. Check the Weather
Thinking of traveling next week? Look at the 15 day forecast and decide if that's the weather you are ok with having on your trip. Yes, forecasts are not always correct, but you don't want to be traveling to Florida in the middle of a hurricane.
10. Just Take the Trip!
The best part of traveling are the memories you make and the experiences you have, everything else is just fluff.
We've all have had trips that weren't long enough, or that didn't take place at the optimal time. However, I have never regretted taking the trip, at least not in the long run. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. If you wait until the perfect time for the perfect trip, you will be forever waiting for the unicorn that never arrives.
It doesn't have to be a huge trip across the world, a simple weekend away with a change of scenery can still recharge your soul.
Your kids will never experience travel with you in the same way tomorrow as they do today, so take the trip!
Mickey's Dream Vacations is a full-service travel agency, specializing in Family & Romance Travel. We take the stress out of travel planning.
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