Pros & Cons of Booking Last Minute Vacations

Booking last minute vacations are exciting, but can also be risky. There are many reasons for wanting to book a getaway with little notice. The most common reason is saving money. But the question is, will you really save?

“Booking last minute might work for some, but for the majority of people it’s too big a gamble,” says TierOne Travel consultant Rose Beaulieu. “I know from experience. You might save a bit of money in one area such as accommodation, only to find you have to pay more in another area such as flights.”

To help you weigh the pros and cons of booking last minute vacations, we’ve put together a few pointers.

The Good

What are the advantages OF last minute vacations?

It’s true that booking last minute can sometimes save you money. More often than not, however, you end up paying more than if you planned ahead. If you are travelling solo or perhaps with one other person and you have a ton of flexibility, you can take advantage of some last-minute deals.

Flying standby, for instance, will save you cash on flights, but you won’t know what time or even what day you will fly out. Standby works best if you have an open-ended place to stay, such as with a friend or family member. Standby is extremely risky and isn’t recommended in general.

Flying standby isn't a good idea.
You might never leave the airport if you fly standby.

 

Seat sales from airlines such as WestJet are rare and unpredictable, and practically never happen at peak travel times such as Christmas or Spring Break. Still, there are advantages to waiting for cheaper flights if you are super flexible and don’t have firm bookings for accommodation and excursions at your intended destination.

Cabins on cruise ships really do sometimes sell for less close to departure, but waiting until the last-minute to get a deal will cost you way more in flights. The real advantage is for people who live close to the big cruise-line ports. In Canada, cruise departure ports are located at Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.

What are the best times to book last minute vacations?

The best time to book last minute vacations for both availability and cost are off season or mid-week. For example, if you decide on a last-minute trip to Vegas, you will have better luck if you go Sunday through Wednesday.

Europe is a popular destination from June to September, so you’ll have more last-minute opportunities booking outside of that time frame. Likewise, any hot getaways near an ocean beach, such as at an all-inclusive resort, are going to be booked up between November and March. Going off season, however, you risk uncomfortably high temperatures or having a holiday during the rainy season. Or worse, hurricane season!

Last minute vacations in Mexico are a good bet.
Mexico is a good bet for a last-minute vacay.

 

Where are the best destinations for last minute vacations?

Mexico is likely your best bet for a last-minute winter getaway. It’s relatively close to Canada and there are definitely deals to be had. As well, most all-inclusive packages to Mexico include flights and transfers to the resort.

The Bad

What are the disadvantages to booking last minute vacations?

The disadvantages of last-minute travel, unfortunately, outweigh the advantages. The risks are great in terms of accommodation and flights.

And even with an unlimited budget, you risk low inventory by waiting too long to book your trip, particularly when it comes to airfare. With Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets grounded indefinitely, there are simply fewer aircraft available. This results in what limited inventory is left being fully booked well in advance.

As for accommodation, you take a risk of being disappointed when booking last minute vacations on the type and quality of your rooms. A five-star hotel online, might end up being a two-star dive in reality.

Sunny last minute getaway.
Nothing like a quick getaway!

Why is it a good idea to book last minute vacations through a travel agent?

“Booking through a travel agent for last minute vacations is your best bet,” says Rose. “We know the product and have insights and expertise we can share.”

A travel agency such as TierOne Travel will have experienced agents who can tell you if the all-inclusive resort you found online for cheap, really is a good deal. They will know if the beach is too short and, therefore, too crowded. They can tell you if the hotel is clean and comfortable and whether transfers from the airport to the resort are included in the initial price.

“You don’t want to arrive and find out you have to pay $200US for a cab,” Rose says.

TierOne Travel agents have the inside scoop. They can do a wide online search, find the best airlines and conduct price comparisons. And they have access to all the reviews – good and bad. To find out more about the travel agent advantage, read our blog here.

Other Considerations

What are the advantages of booking ahead of time?

If you can, booking a vacation in advance is your best-case scenario. You will save time, money and stress by getting exactly what you want … especially if you book through a travel agency.

“You’ll want to book ahead 9-10 months for all-inclusive resorts and up to two years for ocean and river cruises,” says Rose.

Tour operators offer price-drop guarantees in April, May and June. So, not only can you pick your ideal flight departure date and time, secure the hotel of your choice, and get the vacation package you want … if the price of any of it drops within 30-45 days before you leave, most tour operators will honour the drop.

Get Peace of Mind with Travel Insurance

Before you travel, be sure you have enough coverage. Travel insurance will provide you with peace of mind on your vacation. TierOne Travel can help you with all the details. Find out more here.

Last minute vacations are risky.

If you feel like it’s time to explore something new or want to plan a last-minute vacation, contact one of our TierOne travel specialists! They have extensive experience in life-changing travel and will be able to craft something that is suited to your unique needs. One call; endless experiences!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

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