Ask an Expert: How Can I Get Last-Minute Spring Break Deals?
We're back again, deal-seekers! This time we're addressing a dilemma from a reader who wants to get away for spring break but doesn't want to spend a fortune. Check out our latest column to get the best tips and tricks for finding last-minute travel deals, whether you need a vacation now or want to travel later in the year.
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How Can I Get Last-Minute Spring Break Deals?
Dear Ask an Expert,
I'm thinking of taking a spring break trip but don't want to pay really steep prices for last-minute travel. Where are the best places to find last-minute spring break deals, and how can I save on my trip in general?
Got to Get Away
Finding last-minute travel deals in general has been a bit harder since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with issues like inflation now heavily impacting consumers, it's even more difficult for many families to justify a trip. For example, we recently conducted a survey of more than 200 DealNews users, and 26% of respondents said they weren't planning to travel for spring break this year due to the cost.
But what if you can't stand to sit around anymore and need to get away — even if it's just for a weekend? Then try out these strategies for finding last-minute travel deals.
Head to Hotel and Airline Sites
Rather than use an all-in-one online travel agency, consider visiting hotel and airline sites directly. There's a chance they'll have deals that aren't listed on sites like Expedia or Hotels.com. And if you have rewards with individual airlines or hotel chains, booking directly might be the only way to redeem them.
Look for Specific Pages With Last-Minute Travel Deals
If you are checking online travel agencies, see if they offer a page devoted to last-minute travel deals. For example, Expedia has a page with last-minute hotel deals for those looking to book hotels less than two weeks out. Note that when using these pages, you still may be able to choose any date, so do some research to make sure you're seeing the lowest price before you book.
Opt for Less Popular Destinations
If you're aiming for a last-minute getaway, heading to popular spring break destinations like certain beaches will complicate the process. For one thing, depending on how close to your vacation you're trying to book, you may find a lack of lodging choices. Rates may also be higher than what you'd like to pay. Also consider that by visiting popular destinations, you're ensuring heavy traffic and large crowds. Both will likely make it harder to relax.
SEE ALSO: 7 Things NOT to Do When Planning a Trip
But if you opt for less popular destinations, you may have better luck in general. For instance, if you head to the mountains when everyone else is going to the beach, you can expect additional lodging options. That means you'll more likely be able to get a place to stay that fits your budget. And towns that aren't overrun with tourists can also offer more freedom when it comes to activities and dining because fewer people are competing for reservations.
Plus, locals may be more willing to offer solid recommendations if they're not being swarmed by out-of-towners. And some businesses may even be willing to work with you if you want to negotiate for better deals.
Try to Be Flexible
If you aren't limited to a specific spring break vacation time frame, you may be more likely to find travel deals. While you may want to get away as soon as possible, the truth is that if you look for offers that are further out, you may be able to save even more.
A general rule of thumb is to try to book your trip no later than six weeks before your departure. This time tends to be when the cheapest airfares are available, before they start to climb again closer to the departure date.
That doesn't really help in this situation, but you can still be flexible. While you might not be able to tweak your travel dates that much, one way you can be very flexible is with your destination. The beach may sound ideal, but if you see a better rate for heading to a city or a cabin in the mountains, you'll want to be able to take advantage of that.
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