Why not turn an ordinary weekend into the memory of a lifetime? Last-minute travel is a great way to spice up your life.
Planning a last-minute jaunt feels so exhilarating, and turns an ordinary weekend into a joyride. Putting together a trip on short notice is easier than it sounds. Use these tips to throw together a spur-of-the-moment adventure – and use my free trip budgeting tool to figure out how much you should expect to spend.
- Step 1: Find a last-minute flight
The best way to find a deal is to be flexible about where you want to go. Use an open-ended search engine like Kiwi.com to see what your options are. Put in your home airport (you can add more than one if you have choices) and your date ranges and these tools will show you where you can fly at bargain prices.
You can also use a specialized tool like Last Minute Travel to search for a flight.
Don’t want to fly? Use Rome2Rio to find buses, trains, ferries, or even estimate your gas costs for a road trip. You can also use Busbud to compare bus companies and easily buy tickets just about anywhere.
- Step 2: Book your lodging
If you plug the dates and destination you found in Step 1 into a travel site like Expedia or Orbitz, you can create your own “flight plus hotel” package and often get the hotel room for almost nothing.
If you’d rather have your own apartment, or a room with a local person, use Airbnb. You’ll give up hotel services like maids and a front desk, but you’ll have access to a kitchen and more connection to a local neighborhood. If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, use my link to get a nice credit toward your first trip.
If you don’t see what you want on those sites, try Last Minute Travel site, Hotel Tonight, or Hostelworld. Many hostels have private rooms, and their front desk staff can connect you with lots of fun activities as well.
- Step 3: Find tours and activities
What will you do once you arrive at your destination? Sites like Viator and GetYourGuide will show you the top-rated tours and activities and connect you with reputable operators. If you want a more personal experience, try Vayableor Airbnb Experiences. All of these sites let local folks offer their own tours, adventures, cooking classes, and more. On any of these sites, be sure to read the reviews from previous travelers.
- Step 4: Getting Around
E-mail or call your hotel and ask their advice on how to get there from the airport. Some will offer shuttles, but if not they’ll tell you whether it’s best to take the metro or hop in a taxi.
Once you’re in town, use Google Maps to find your way around the city (Check out my Google Maps pro trips at this link). Use TripAdvisor or Google Maps to find good restaurants and fun things to do as you walk around the city.
- The All-Inclusive Option
Sometimes simple is best, and a pre-packaged resort trip is the most relaxing option when you want to unwind. Last Minute Travel offers cruises. Apple Vacations and Funjet both offer complete packages with flights and all-inclusive resorts at a variety of price points. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, check out the last-minute deals offered by Intrepid Travel or G Adventures. You might also want to check with a local travel agent to see if they have any appealing offers.
Finding a flight, a room, and fun things to do at the last minute is a breeze, thanks to all the travel planning websites at your disposal. Why not toss out all your plans for the next few days and take a little trip?