The holidays are a pricey time of year — can you really afford a vacation? Perhaps not at full price. But there are actually quite a lot of options for discounted, last-minute vacations in the winter months - you just need to have great timing to score great travel on a tight budget. Here are the top jet setting secrets for cheap last-minute vacations at a fraction of the cost.
Secret 1: Be Flexible
The thing with last-minute trips — they leave when they leave, and the deal often has just a few days notice. So if you have a rigid work schedule, piano recital or family event you're trying to work around, flying at the drop of a hat could be tricky. Decide what your travel window could be on the outside and work within that. You might have to skip a small event or two to make it fly and your workplace certainly has to be on board with a last-minute vacation request. Most cheap vacations leave and come back on a weekday - and most of the deals this time of year do not leave on December 20 and come back Dec 30, as you might like. Many are for early December or early January — the short windows when airlines, hotels and travel companies can't sell their product like they can over the actual holidays.
Secret 2: Find Your Resources
Hook yourself up with some travel web sites that offer last-minute deals. Places like Cheapflights.ca, Redtag.ca and Selloffvacations.com have an ever-evolving list of inexpensive flights, hotels and all-inclusive warm trips. Check them regularly or set yourself up on e-mail alerts. The best deals usually come up Tuesdays and Wednesdays. By the weekend, consumers are more active and the rates tend to go up.
Secret 3: Book With Care
It's tempting to get caught up in the time limit of these offerings. Before you click, be sure that indeed everyone in the family is available, and read the fine print to find out what you can do if you need to cancel. Double and triple check all the details (does the flight leave form your local airport? Does the resort price include food?). Ideally, book such a trip on a reliable travel credit card, such as the Capitol One Aspire Travel World MasterCard. You can add the points into your rock-bottom budget and you get both trip cancellation and emergency travel insurance, which makes your booking that much safer. If you don't have a credit card handy with travel insurance coverage, be sure to do a quick comparison and score a cheap rate for your trip - a must-have for any getaway.
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Secret 4: Be At The Ready
Particularly if you're travelling with kids, or you have a busy job you're leaving for a last-minute dream vacation, know in advance that you might be doing this and get things in order. Get that pedicure, pull out the suitcases, be sure the bathing suits fit and arrange for someone to feed the cat. If you're looking to save even more, why not forgo the hotel for a home swap? Based on the simple concept of 'you stay in my home whilst I stay in yours', HomeExchange provides its 47.000 members with the opportunity to trade their homes in 150 countries and reap the benefits of a safe, affordable way to explore the world whilst living like a true local on vacation. While last-minute vacations are a lot of fun, they can be stressful if you're not somewhat prepared in advance. Get things in order, be sure you're staying within budget and get away and have some fun.