5 Tips for Planning Last Minute Trips
There's something exhilarating (and intimidating) about planning a last minute trip! As a planner at heart, last minute travel scenarios are never my first choice, but everything has always worked out the times I've done it - the most recent being in April when Greg and I decided to go to London three days prior to departure! Whether it's because you desperately need to hit refresh or a few days in your busy schedule suddenly open up, there may come a time when you get to plan a vacation but are put under the wire to book it. Since the last thing you need is to stress about the cure for your stress, here are a few tips which I’ve picked up along the way that I hope help you plan your next last minute trip.
- Book All At Once - Though it may seem counterintuitive, I'd say the most important thing to do when booking last minute is don't book too fast. Why? Because you'd hate to grab a deal on a flight to then find out lodging accommodations are sold out, which can sometimes be the case during peak season. The best bet is to knock out all your bookings in one sitting, primarily for flights and hotels (it's easier to be flexible with activities, rental cars, etc). If you do find a flight deal that seems to good to be true, it's usually safe to grab it, as most airlines have a 24 hour cancellation window leaving you a bit of time to secure accommodations.
- Compare One Way Tickets - Speaking of flights, they are often the most costly component of any trip so finding the best deal can make or break your plans. I often compare the price of roundtrip tickets with one way tickets, as sometimes the best deal can be found by mixing carriers. This can be a bit trickier when traveling internationally, as you'll need to show proof of your return flight at check-in, so bring copies of all itineraries and receipts.
- Don't Be Too Picky - One of the main keys to successfully pulling off a last minute trip is to not be too picky. This is a tough one for me, especially when it comes to accommodations as more often than not I choose destinations based on hotels I want to check out, but with short notice you don't always have that luxury, as places (as well as excursions) may be sold out. If your first or second choices aren't available, be willing to be flexible and the unexpected choice may just be the best one! Same is true with destinations. If flights to the destination you have your heart set on are way too expensive, take a look at Google Flights' Discover Destinations feature which will give you a list of dozens of destinations that have the best airfare specials for your preferred travel dates.
- Make Use of Your Concierge - If you hit a road block when trying to book dining reservations, pay a visit to your hotel's concierge upon arrival as they often have the connections to help you score a table at the most sought-after restaurants. Or, if you have no time to research restaurants before your trip, don't worry about it and rely on them to point you in the right direction. While in London, we knew we wanted to enjoy some authentic Indian cuisine, and after unsuccessfully trying to do an early walk-in at one of the city's hot spots, we gave our concierge a call and they told us about a wonderful place off the beaten path which we never would have discovered on our own! They can also be helpful when it comes to securing tickets to shows and attractions.
- Choose Your Destination Wisely - It's easy to get ahead of yourself when daydreaming about exotic locations, but before you get too far in the planning process remember to do a bit of research to see if the country you have your eyes set on requires a visa or immunizations, both of which could take months to obtain. Also, once a year remind yourself to check your passport's expiration date so you'll be ready to head abroad at a moment's notice if necessary.