Forgot to plan a summer getaway? No worries. Spur-of-the-moment trips are easier than ever to book—and cheap too. Here are a few ideas to try.
Many resorts resell rooms that were canceled at the last minute, says Benoit Montigny, a director of revenue management for Club Med. If you have a favorite resort chain, follow it on Twitter and Facebook, where you’ll find deals such as one offered recently by Playa Resorts: rooms at its Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica for $355 a night, a 55% savings.
That said, only 52% of inventory is posted, notes CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg: “A last-minute cancellation isn’t necessarily announced through a website or a clearing house, so call the property directly and use the web as a backup.”
Booking Sweet Spot: 2-3 weeks
If the destination is less important than the experience, head to the Caribbean, which accounts for more than one third of all cruise-ship travel from the U.S. A recent Norwegian Cruise Line’s four-night Bahamas trip, available 10 days before departure on LastMinuteTravel.com, went for $348 a person (a 27% savings).
If you’re looking for a luxury cruise, call the experts. With only two weeks’ notice, Marcella Rappoport at Ovation Vacations found a 10-day Oceania sailing from Lisbon for $4,799 per person, 77% off the brochure rate. Cruise-savvy agents can also negotiate extras such as prepaid gratuities, Internet, and shipboard credits.
Booking sweet spot: 2-4 weeks
Work with operators such as Trafalgar and Gate 1, which have web pages for around-the-corner sales. G Adventures recently offered a nine-day Morocco trip, booked two weeks before departure, for $1,049 a person, a 25% savings.
If you use sites like Expedia and Orbitz, think off-peak: Europe in the fall, for example. For long weekends, take Monday off instead of Friday, since Sunday is often the cheapest night at a hotel, says Isar Meitis, president of LastMinuteTravel.com.
Booking sweet spot: 7-30 days
If you like planning your own holiday, these tips can help save on rooms and transportation:
Hotels On Roomer.com, travelers can sell their canceled, nonrefundable hotel rooms, so you often see deals up to 85% off original booking prices.
Flights Follow the Twitter feed @AirfareWatchDog and Flight Deal’s Facebook page. Confirm prices that seem too good with the airline.