As the summer travel season approaches, most North Americans are looking forward to three whirlwind months full of barbecues, weddings, reunions and pool parties — and somewhere in there, a summer vacation. For those who prefer to line up their summer escapes at the last minute, GoLastMinute.com offers a list of tips to help travelers find fares and accommodations — and save money in the process.
Save your trip for late summer
Depending on where you’d like to travel, the summer months can either mean an elbow-to-elbow experience or one free of crowds. Even destinations with a summer off-season still typically see a bump in activity in June and July, when families vacation. If you can save your trip for later in August, you’re likely to find better hotel rates and flights as the busy warm-weather season comes to a close.
In Key West, for example, hotels that are normally in the $250 to $400 range decrease their rates by up to $50 per night for travel starting in late August.
Search for dates and destinations with an open mind
To find affordable last-minute travel this summer, flexibility is key. Give yourself some wiggle room for dates of travel and flight departure times so you can zero in on the best rates. Consider flying out on a Tuesday instead of a Friday, or book a weekday hotel stay to avoid higher weekend rates.
Approach your last-minute trip with an approximate idea of when and where you’d like to go, and tailor your search according to whichever place can offer the best deals. If New York is too expensive, look into Chicago. If your credit card can’t handle a Miami trip, see what budget-friendly offers are available in Ft. Myers Beach, Clearwater or St. Pete Beach.
Choose a hotel with freebies and perks
Be on the lookout for properties that offer a little something extra, whether it’s Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking or in-room coffee. Also watch carefully for resort fees, and if possible, choose a hotel that doesn’t charge them. Avoid getting nickel and dimed to help bring down your total vacation costs.
For beach trips to Mexico and the Caribbean, all-inclusive resorts are a no-brainer as meals, drinks and activities are bundled into one easy-to-handle nightly price. Some resorts, however, offer even more value through extra perks and amenities.
For example, Palace Resorts, a collection of properties located mainly in major Mexican beach destinations, offer $1500 in resort credits for stays of seven nights or longer. The credits can be used toward specialty dining, spa treatments, golf and tours.
And some all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico offer exchange privileges at sister resorts, meaning you can take advantage of dining and amenities at nearby properties even if you don’t have a room there.
Got your eye on Atlantis, the epic Bahamas resort complex? Consider saving money at neighboring no-frills Comfort Suites Paradise Island, which allows you access to the beaches, water parks and other over-the-top amenities of Atlantis without the hefty price tag (breakfast is free, too).
Look for suite accommodations
Looking to save money on food costs? Book a suite or a condo instead of a regular guest room to have access to a kitchen or a kitchenette. Cooking your own meals instead of racking up pricey restaurant bills helps you save money and time. Even simply preparing coffee and breakfast in the morning can save you a nice chunk of change over the course of a trip. Plus, having a refrigerator to store takeout leftovers allows you to have an additional meal or snack without further expense.
Track airfares with last-minute fare alerts
This summer, keep an eye out for the cheapest fares with GoLastMinute.com’s fare alerts, designed for travelers looking to jet off in just a few days or weeks. Create alerts for up to five routes by doing a search on GoLastMinute.com in the “Compare Flight Deals” box and entering your email address to sign up. If we see there are other popular destinations from your departure city, we’ll show prices for those trips as well. Some of them may be even cheaper than your original destination.
We’ve delivered more than 50 million fare alerts since we launched the feature in February 2017, helping hundreds of thousands of travelers find the lowest fares to their destinations.
GoLastMinute.com helps travelers search and compare prices on flights, hotels, vacation packages and cruises via web and mobile sites, fare alerts and social media channels. The site has been featured by MSN, Yahoo, Business Insider, TravelPulse, Country Living, Elle Décor, Elite Daily and Global Traveler USA.
GoLastMinute.com is published by GraphicBomb, named to Inc. 5000’s list of the fastest-growing companies in America for 2016 and 2017. GraphicBomb also publishes BeachDeals.com and Bamgo.com.