The Pros & Cons of Booking Last-Minute Vacations
Booking a last minute vacation is 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 most 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.
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 travel deals.
Flying standby, for instance, will save you cash on flights, but you won’t know what time or 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.
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 in 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 to book 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!
What are the disadvantages of 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, fewer aircraft are 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 room online might end up being a two-star dive in reality.
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.
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.
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.
What Qualifies as “Last-Minute”?
Prices for last-minute travel can change daily, sometimes multiple times each day, and normally start to fall three weeks before departure. The months of February to mid-April, for instance, are considered to offer fewer opportunities for last-minute travel offers than other times of the year. With early booking bonuses, vacations during these times are often significantly cheaper in advance.
For the majority of departure dates, making reservations two to ten days in advance gives you the best value between reduced rates and a wide range of destinations. Prices will decrease in accordance with availability the nearer you are to the travel date you like. But, there will undoubtedly be fewer options due to limited availability.
Best Places To Go on a Last-Minute Getaway
All-Inclusive Vacation Packages in Mexico and the Caribbean
Travelers can find great deals on a last minute trip to amazing destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Warm weather and sandy beaches await you on an amazing beach vacation. Sunwing, WestJet Vacations, and Air Canada Vacations all offer some of the best deals on flight, transfer and all-inclusive accommodation packages.
Popular Destinations Include:
- Varadero, Cuba
- Cancun, Mexico
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- And more…
New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas
These iconic big cities have TONS of hotel rooms available so you will always be able to find something when deciding to go on a last-minute trip. Also, flights to these cities are very popular so you should be able to find a couple with some seats still available at a short notice.
These cities offer amazing attractions from Times Square, Universal Studios Hollywood, The Vegas Strip and so much more, you’re basically guaranteed to have an amazing last-minute experience in these cities.
If you’ve been to these cities already and want something new, there are so many options for day trips. From Las Vegas, you can travel to the Grand Canyon on a day trip. In New York head to Hudson Valley to experience the great outdoors of New York state. In Los Angeles spend a day at Disneyland in Anaheim or relax on a beach.
You can find many last-minute Caribbean cruises departing from Ft. Lauderdale. This is also a great option if you’re looking for a quick getaway since some Caribbean cruises can be as short as 3 days, a perfect taste for the cruising travel style. Sail to many different and world-famous Caribbean islands on amazing ships, an amazing option for a spontaneous trip.
Or check out last-minute cruises to Alaska, which normally depart from Vancouver, British Columbia. The Alaska cruise season runs from May through September. So pack your bags and board an incredible cruise ship and explore a region of unrivalled natural beauty, fascinating history, and breathtaking wildlife on a last-minute vacation.
Cruising is one of the best ways to experience many amazing destinations in one trip while only having to unpack once! On last-minute cruises, you can explore breathtaking locations all over the world.
In conclusion, last-minute vacations can offer both advantages and disadvantages for travelers. On one hand, they provide an opportunity for spontaneity and flexibility, as well as potential cost savings. However, last-minute planning can also lead to limited availability and higher prices for popular destinations or times of the year. Ultimately, the decision to book a last-minute vacation depends on individual preferences and priorities. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and consider factors such as budget, destination, and personal travel style before making a decision. By doing so, travelers can ensure that they have an enjoyable and stress-free vacation experience, whether they plan ahead or wait until the last minute.
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PLANNING A LAST MINUTE GETAWAY?
When you’re ready to book your next travel plan, contact one of our TierOne Travel consultants. They will find the perfect place for your next vacation and will craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs and will make sure your travel plans will be as stress-free as possible.
One call; endless experiences!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous