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I am a new vegan and just starting to write a blog about my journey thus far. http://griffinwolf2008.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to travel affordably last minute

So you have a week off from work coming up, but you still haven’t organized travel plans, and you are on a bit of a tight budget? Well, you are in the right place! Here are 5 tips on how to affordably travel last minute!

1. Hotels Have Deals Galore.
A majority of hotels and hostels will have some sort of deal going on at one point or another. Often times these deals can go on for several weeks or even the entire season, so you really don’t need to worry until you have found cheap airfare first.  
There are also a good number of hotels that have some sort of membership loyalty program or an  association with AAA or AARP that offer discounts.  With larger hotel chains, look for deals on both main and local property sites and do not be afraid to call specific locations to see if there are any unadvertised offers available. Many hotel managers are willing to make last minute deals just to fill an empty room for the night.
Hostels are also an inexpensive way to go. There is all night security, a curfew of some sort (if you share a room with about 4-8 others), and you get to meet new people from all over the world.
You can also sign up with a website such as www.couchsurfing.org where people offer their homes and allow travelers to stay for a few nights, most of the time for free. Although it cannot hurt to buy your host dinner one night, all you need to do after your visit with them is leave some feedback.
2. Plan ahead.
Although it may sound like a contradiction, especially considering that this article is based on making travel plans last minute, I can assure you that it is not. Many savvy travelers tend to stick to last minute vacations, but they’ve still planned ahead.
These same savvy travelers sign up for email offers, deals, e-newsletters and email blasts from various travel sites, credit card companies, airlines and hotel companies. They consistently research deals during peak seasons and major events, when prices of hotels and airlines tend to go through the roof. Again, AAA and AARP can be your best friend. If it helps you, set up a separate email account just for travel alert emails just to stay organized.
3. Move Fast, but Pay Attention.
If you see a great deal, book it as soon as you see it, because it can be gone faster than you can bat an eye. But don’t rush too quickly. Make sure you read the fine print and understand everything. You need to know what you are and are not getting for your money. You need to be cautious and read between the lines.
4. Being Flexible Is Better.
There will always be last-minute deals that will come up when hotels and airlines need to fill rooms and seats. It is considerably easier to find good deals when you do not have any particular travel destination in mind or specific time frame.
In all honesty, it might mean that you will need to travel on weekdays, fly out incredibly early or very late on either direct or indirect flight. It is also cheaper to be on standby as well.
If you get the chance to volunteer your seat, do it, because you will be offered a flight voucher towards another flight in the future. While you are at it, try to negotiate for a higher voucher ticket as well.
5. Start with Last-Minute Vacation Websites
There is several good, one stop shopping sites such as LastMinute.com that can easily save you approximately 70% on airfare and hotel rooms. Travelzoo.com goes through hundreds and hundreds of travel website and newsletter deals.  VacationstoGo.com is good for booking a cruise last minute.
There will be many deals which really won’t interest you. An offer from New York to London will not help if you are trying to get to Paris. When you know exactly where you want to go, check out AirfareWatchdog.com. Airfare Watch Dog looks at the seasonal trends for the best price available to you. All you need to do is enter your departure and arrival airports as well as the dates you intend to travel for a list of the most inexpensive flights available. It is also a good idea to look at all the available airports in your area, because it may be cheaper to fly out of an airport 2 hours away instead of the one 15 minutes away.
Fly.com is a sister site to TravelZoo.com and allows you do most of the same types of tracking.
You will also want to check out AAA, AARP, Travelocity, kayak and other common travel websites to see if you can find other deals as well!
Emily Griffin is 23 years old and a recent college graduate from State college of Florida. She is a personal finance writer for Save1.com; the new coupon startup that feeds kids each time a coupon or deal is used. 

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