August 16, 2013 4:57 pm
The clock may be ticking toward Labor Day and Back-to-School, but it isn’t too late to find a last-minute vacation bargain.
Travel writers at USA Today suggest seven steps to finding a deeply discounted travel opportunity that may be too good to refuse:
- Pack your bags – Rock bottom prices at beachfront hotels and resorts are often offered just before Labor Day. Get your bags packed so you can just add toiletries and medications when the right opportunity is found.
- Plan ahead – If you are going to need pet or house sitters or have to arrange for time off, pick the week you want to go and plan ahead to secure them at short notice.
- Decide what’s important – If you don’t have a particular destination in mind, you will have many more opportunities to choose from. However, if you do have a destination in mind, you will have more of a focus for your bargain hunt.
- Set your budget – A week-long tropical cruise on three days' notice can give you impressive savings, until you factor in the cost of booking a flight 72 hours in advance. You may elect to focus on destinations you can drive to. In any case, once you have a budget established, make every effort to stick to it.
- Build a community – There are plenty of bargain travel deals online. But another way to find cheap last-minute travel is with a package tour, and a cancellation can leave a travel agent scrambling to fill an empty slot. Call or visit a few and let them know what you're looking for.
- Join a travel site –Search for one dedicated to your kind of travel, such as cruising or beach vacations. Being on an e-mail list may help you secure a last-minute deal.
- Be open to the unexpected – If you're just looking to get away from it all, be open to what comes along. It may not be the destination you had in mind, but the more specific the travel deal you're looking for is, the harder it will be to come by. Perhaps four nights out of town at a posh bed and breakfast (for the cost of only two nights) isn't what you had in mind when you started bargain hunting. But your bag is packed, and it may be just the ticket you need!