As Summer winds down and kids head back to school it's a great time for travelers who are able to be flexible about travel dates to search for deals. I had fun this last two days checking out various resort hotels around the country looking for bargains and they do exist. Best bet is to go to web site of a chain (Marriott for example) you like and look for a link that indicates "specials" or "deals". Another good bet, if you don't mind being pro-active is www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner) . I just got a fantastic rate, 20% of asking price on a rental in WA state. I checked out locations I liked, looked at properties and then looked at the availability calendar. Where I saw a large gap between renters I simply wrote an e mail and made an offer figuring 20 percent of something is better than nothing. Two didn't reply, one did. My time involved? - all of thirty minutes.
Traveling solo? Check out the following site for last minute openings and bargains. www.gapadventures.com click on "specials". This morning there were 25 percent discounts for September/October travel to the Greek Islands, Borneo, Bangkok, Peru, Costa Rica and more. The company has been around for a long time and specializes in adventure /activity (but not crazy) vacations. No penalty for being a solo traveler and they will hook you up with a compatible room mate wherever they see a fit.
If you can throw a couple of things into a bag and head for the airport, check the major carriers for last minute offers on weekend getaways. You can really luck out if you live in a hub city such as Chicago, Atalanta or Miami. Miami to Aruba $129 each way this weekend on American Airlines - grab your swimsuit! Destinations may not always be top on your must see radar but a little research can open a whole new world. A couple of years ago I did a "what the heck" dirt cheap weekend round trip to St. Louis and had a great time exploring.
Heading for Europe without hotel reservations? My favorite site is www.laterooms.com - well below published rates in good hotels. Other old standbys for hotels and flights within the US are www.kayak.com, www.hotwire.com.
We'd love to hear your "don't break the bank" tips for getting away. Let us know if you've tucked away some great web resources for future use. Meanwhile I'm off to Chicago for a very long weekend. Was about to book with Southwest but just for kicks checked AA and got an identical deal with better times. I'm really torn on the whole subject of planning ahead vs last minute - I guess you have to take your chances. Right as I was finishing up this entry my Travelocity alert came in offering me Tucson/ San Antonio, two nights hotel, round trip plus car $372.00 - hmm , haven't seen the Alamo in a couple of years and I have memories of an amazing burrito at a cafe on River Walk.
This must be the day for sending out offers - Elderhostel e news landed in my box minutes ago offering two for one deals on Near East Highlights: Cairo, Upper Egypt, Petra and the Sinai Peninsula - now that's one I will explore. www.elderhostel.org offers last minute discounts too. Check out the website and click on "Last Minute."
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