By Marilynne Rudick
It’s true that the early bird often gets the best travel deals—the bargain airfare or the plum suite on a cruise. But sometimes you need a quick getaway. You can’t take one more inch of snow. Get me on the first plane to a warm place!
Happily there are often rewards for last-minute travelers. Travel suppliers would rather get less money for a hotel room than no money for an empty room. So you can often get hefty discounts.
Check out these websites for great last-minute deals.
Top 5 Sites for Last Minute Travel Deals
1. LicketyTrip lists vacation homes that are available in the next two weeks. These listings include last-minute vacancies as well as cancellations. Some listings include rental prices; others require you to contact the owner for price information. Either way, here’s your chance to make a deal.
- Sample listing: Paris. A one-bedroom apartment on the Left Bank. Walk to the Louvre. Price: April to December $1250 weekly.
2. Travelocity Last Minute Deals offers deep discounts on vacation packages (air, hotel, car or hotel, car) available in the next three weeks. Travelocity boasts that you can “log on to Last Minute Packages at lunchtime and be on your way to Miami, hotel, airfare and optional rental car included, by 5 pm!”
- Sample listing: Key Largo, Florida. Includes airfare and two nights hotel. Price: from $429 per person.
3. TravelZoo aggregates bargains from more than 2,000 companies around the world and offers deep discounts for trips within the next month.
- Sample listing: California Wine Country Hotel withTastings. Price: $89 a night.
4. CruisesOnly offers discounts from more than 20 cruise lines worldwide. But the best deals are their book-within-3-days specials that couple low prices with additional incentives including cabin upgrades, shipboard credits and discounted airfare.
- Sample Listing: 16-night transatlantic cruise. (Barcelona, Spain to Galveston, Texas). Price: from $749.
5. Expedia last-minute travel deals. Choose a la carte travel—hotel, airfare or car or a complete package.
Is It Really a Deal?
Does the deal seem too good to be true? It may be. Before you click buy read the fine print. Are there additional fees (taxes, gratuities) or blackout dates? When does the deal expire? Is the deal only good in the offseason (such as hurricane season in the Caribbean)?
Do some comparison shopping. Go to Expedia, Orbitz or the airlines and hotel website and check rates. Is the package cheaper than a trip you could put together yourself? If the package includes a flight, take a careful look at the schedule. Are there long layovers in connecting cities? Does your New York to Chicago flight get there by way of Miami?
If you’re booking a hotel, map the location. Beware of the word vicinity. For example, many Washington DC vicinity packages include hotels that are 25 miles from the city.
There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting on a sun-kissed beach thinking about the blizzard back home–except having gotten a great bargain to boot.
About the Author: Marilynne Rudick writes about web tools and technologies in her WebOver50 blog. She believes the web is wasted on the young, and her blog explains web apps– social networking, blogging, YouTube, and the treasure trove of new web tools—for people like herself: an over50 history major.