Arranging a last-minute holiday is easier said than done, especially when you don't have any experience with vacation deals. However, you can make the most out of your vacation while reducing your overall expenditure with just a little bit of careful planning and following the steps outlined below.
Let's get down to brass tacks.
With wanderlust hitting you hard suddenly, here's how you can plan a trip that treats that travel bug.
First things first, you need to know how much disposable income you have available for the trip. This should be easy to do if you're travelling on your own. However, if you're taking the entire family for a vacation, you'll have to plan the budget for everyone. Learning about your expenditures early on lets you plan properly and avoid impulse expenditure as well as unimportant flights.
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Because this is a last minute holiday, you probably know where you're going or have been invited somewhere - so you've got this step figured out. If not, take 10 minutes to think about a place you want to go.
Find a cheap flight to your destination on cheapflights.com. You may be able to save a couple of hundred dollars for a round-trip - if you choose carefully that is!
Pro tip: Sign up for airline newsletters to learn about price drops.
Since this is going to be a last-minute holiday, you probably don't have a budget nailed down. But that's alright. You can work with the budget that you've already got. During a vacation, we recommend going with the flow since it's not every day that you'll be taking a last-minute trip. Avoid overspending and racking up credit card debt since this could hurt your finances at a later time.
Now, this is an important step because, without valid documentation, you probably won't be able to board a flight. You can use a service like iVisa to obtain expedited services for a visa (in a matter of hours). Start crossing off countries from your list if they refuse to process your visa with a short deadline. As a rule, we recommend having a passport that has at least six months left before its date of expiry (and two to three blank pages left).
Prepare a packing list to keep all your important items on your person at all times. Don't know a thing about packing? Don't worry - simply look up "packing list for quick vacation" (or something to this effect) and you will most likely find a usable list.
Keep in mind that your must-have items include a passport, visa, phone, any medications you take regularly. By the way, there's no rulebook that says you should pack all your clothes and food - something as simple as tees and shorts will do just fine.
You'll need a place to stay - and that's where a hotel comes in. The good news is that most hotels always have last-minute rooms available for guests. You can check out Trivago and Agoda to find affordable accommodation as well as holiday packages. We don't recommend using an Airbnb for your last-minute vacation if you don't know the area well.
The advantage of hotels is that they are typically located in well-off areas that are safe for travellers to hang out. Using Airbnb will make your search for the trip all the most exhausting and time-consuming.
Pro tip: Sign up for hotel fare alerts and newsletters from various travel websites (and airlines). They will provide you with last minute updates about price drops and hikes, making it easier to guide your last-minute flight options.
If you plan on moving a lot, you'll need to get behind some wheels. An Uber and Lyft can do just fine for occasional travelling too. Use a place like DriveNow or Avis to book a car at an affordable rate. Processing times are quick, and you'll get the keys to the car right away. Just make sure to drive responsibly.
The thing with last-minute plans is that they don't always go according to plan. It's wise to provide some room for changes to your to-do list of things. Having a Plan B ensures that you won't have to face the prospects of a cancelled trip or a budgetary issue somewhere down the line.
Pro tip: Part of being flexible is to be prepared to hop rooms and hotels throughout the duration of your vacation. This lets you avoid price hikes and, if we're honest, enjoy more of your vacation since you're not stuck in one place - that can get boring after a while.
The problem with online booking sites for hotels and airlines is their cancellation policies. Suppose you have to make changes to your plan and your previous arrangement with the hotel or airline no longer works out. Will the vendor let you cancel your reservation without levying cancellation fees? The good news is that most hotels and airlines have relaxed their cancellation policies with flexible booking options.
So it should be easy to change your plan if you have to.
This is a must-have policy that will protect you in case something goes wrong. Insurance providers are offering different policies to cover your holiday. Make sure to read them properly. For instance, check to see their policy about government-imposed cancellations and disruptions.
It may be difficult to find insurance for a last-minute trip if you don't already have one. But do check in with providers to see if they offer a flexible travel insurance policy for your situation. Search engines like Google and Bing should make it easy to find a policy for your last-minute vacation.
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