How to find last minute travel bargains


With fuel prices continuing to skyrocket you might think it's impossible to have a bargain vacation. Not true, says Travelocity's Genevieve Brown, who shows us how to find last minute travel bargains.

How to find last minute travel bargains
  • First, be open-minded and flexible about your destination and means of travel: think about vacations that don’t involve airfare—it’s hard to find empty seats at the last minute.
  • If you do want to fly, consider looking for a trip based on theme, not location. So instead of having your heart set on Miami, focus on a general beach destination instead.
  • You can find last minute travel deals by booking travel to eastern European cities such as Croatia rather than more expensive western European cities.
  • Think about places that you wouldn’t normally consider in the summer months. The Caribbean, Hilton Head and Las Vegas have great deals during their “off seasons.”
  • Find a family destination within your budget. All-inclusive resorts offer good bargains for last minute travel as you’ve paid one price already for the entire trip.
  • There are great last minute travel deals on cruise lines. If you live in or near a port city, that may be a great option.
  • Like an all-inclusive vacation, cruises are similar in that they include transportation, lodging, all meals and nightly entertainment. You can find last minute travel bargains to fit any budget, however, many are now adding fuel surcharges.
  • National Parks let you tailor your vacation. You can make it as simple as staying in a tent, or as luxurious as staying in four-star lodge.
  • Travel mid-week. Generally the best airfares are on Tuesday and Wednesday.

CYNTHIA: Hi, I’m Cynthia Guaba for Suddenly it's summertime, but you haven’t gotten around to making any travel plans. Is there still time? Genevieve Brown says yes. And she ought to know. She’s the senior editor at Travelocity. Genevieve, is there still time? Can anyone get some last-minute good deals for summer travel?

GENEVIEVE: You can definitely still get a great deal on your summer travel plans. The trick is to think about plans that don’t necessarily involve airfare. That’s not to say that you can’t get a last-minute deal that involves airfare. But you’ll have to be a lot more flexible in your travels. That’s simply because the airlines are flying so full these days that they’re just aren’t that many empty seats available. So if you want to take a last-minute trip that involves an airline, you might want to shop by theme, rather than by destination. So what I mean by that is, instead of getting, you know, Miami on the brain, think about beach destinations and see all the options that are available to you in different beach destinations. And you can shop by theme, rather than by destination. So that’s key when booking a last-minute trip. Now, if you don’t need to take an airplane to where you want to go on your little last-minute getaway, that’s even better because there are great last-minute deals to be had, particularly on cruise lines. So if you live in or near a port city, that’s a great option right there.

CYNTHIA: Can you recommend a unique, out-of-the-way place that families may want to go to?

GENEVIEVE: Well of course, there are so many wonderful far-flung travel destinations out there that we all want to visit. Croatia comes to mind, in Eastern Europe, as an alternative to some more expensive, Western European cities. But the places you might want to think about are the places that you wouldn’t necessarily think to travel to in the summer months. For example, the Caribbean. Seeing fantastic deals on hotel rooms in the Caribbean in the summer months. Same with Las Vegas, and seeing lots of promotions to get people to visit these places in their off seasons. Free night promotions, you know, gambling credits in Las Vegas, free breakfasts all around. Lots of incentives to get you to these places.

CYNTHIA: What about some great family destinations?

GENEVIEVE: What I recommend for families is looking to stay within your budget. Two easy ways of doing that is looking at all-inclusive resorts and cruises. First I’ll talk about all-inclusive resorts. Once you get there, everything is included in the pre-price you paid. So I’m talking lodging, entertainment, drinks, food, kids’ clubs, everything. You’ve paid once price, there’re going to be very few surprises on your bill at the end of the trip. And all-inclusive resorts come in every shape, every size, every budget. Now cruising, a great option also for staying within your budget. Again you pay one price, you get your transportation between ports, you’ve got your lodging, you’ve got every meal included, and nightly entertainment on the ship. The one caveat with cruises, is that with the high cost of fuel, we’re seeing surcharges. They differ by air – they differ by cruise line, excuse me, and you’ll want to check in on what specifically that’s going to be for you.

CYNTHIA: How about some national parks? Any good deals for families?

GENEVIEVE: Well the thing about national parks, is that they’re sort of these individual vacations you can tailor to make your very own. It’s really important to get kids back to nature these days; they spend so much time indoors. The thing about national parks is, just book your airfare to get there and once you’re there, you just pay the park fee, you can, it can be as inexpensive as just pitching a tent, and staying in the tent with your family for the trip. It can be as upscale as a luxury lodge. And the thing about national parks is, they’re so many that are great to explore. The Great Smoky Mountains, you know, Yellowstone, just so many wonderful places. And they can be a really affordable way of getting back to nature, and getting back in touch with the family.

CYNTHIA: What is the easiest way to get a bargain at the last minute?

GENEVIEVE: You want to be flexible; again, that’s the key. So that might mean traveling mid-week as opposed to the weekends. Generally, we see the best airfares on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Think about traveling on those days, because they’res not as many people flying. Look to things that have a lot of inventory. Again, cruising: lots of inventory, which means lots of opportunity to snag a good deal at the last minute. Considering places that are not at their peak. So, you know, we might think about going to a place like Hilton Head, South Carolina. That’s a wonderful place in the fall and spring, in the summer, it’s a little hot, but the prices are lower, and it’s a wonderful place to visit. Beaches, golf, all sorts of great things for the whole family.

CYNTHIA: Genevieve, thank you so much. Those are great tips.

GENEVIEVE: Thank you.

CYNTHIA: I’m Cynthia Guaba for

meet theexpert
  • Genevieve Brown

    Genevieve Brown Senior Editor, Travelocity Genevieve Brown is the Senior Editor at Travelocity. She has appeared on Fox Business News, MSNBC Live, The Early Show, Fox & Friends, CNN American Morning, NBC Nightly News and Martha Stewart Sirius Satellite Radio. more about this expert »

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