Friday, July 26, 2013

How to Plan a Last-Minute Vacation
Everyone's had their vacation planned for months ... well everyone but you! Fortunately, you can still enjoy some time in paradise, if you're willing to put in just a little time and effort.
Take the road less traveled.
The first step in planning a last-minute getaway is finding a great spot to vacation. When time is short, flexibility is key. Here are some tips!
·         Consider "off-peak" destinations. For example, summer may be a good time to visit major U.S. cities that typically host conventions during the fall, or a resort town that is popular with tourists during the winter. Hotels want to fill empty rooms and may offer extra perks, lower rates, or package deals.
·         If you're flying, search for flights at more than one airport. If you're willing to depart from any airport near you or arrive at any airport relatively close to your destination, you'll have more options and a better chance of snagging a lower-cost flight. Also consider flying during off-peak hours or taking non-direct flights.
Ask the experts.
Getting advice is invaluable, and who better to ask than people who have been where you're going?
·         Visit travel websites and forums where you can view ratings for attractions, hotel and restaurant reviews, and even suggested itineraries posted by local residents and tourists. You can also purchase or download travel guides.
·         Consider working with a travel agent who has access to last-minute package deals or special airfares, and in-depth knowledge of vacation spots.
·         Once you arrive at your destination, ask questions. Most major vacation destinations have a visitor's bureau staffed with knowledgeable people just waiting to give you free advice, maps, and even help finding accommodations (sometimes at special discounts). Front-desk staff or hotel concierges are also able to recommend restaurants and sight-seeing options.
Sweat the small stuff.
Saving time is a top priority when planning a last-minute vacation--here are a few suggestions that can help you get on the road quickly.
·         Make a packing list, and pack most of your items ahead of time. Make sure you have address tags on your luggage before you get to the airport.
·         Pick a spot to keep essential (but easy to forget) items such as your wallet or purse, keys, airline tickets, passports, cell phone (and charger), and prescription drugs so that they will be in one place in case you're in a hurry the day you depart.
·         If you're flying, confirm your reservations. Today most airlines allow on-line check-in’s 24 hours in advance and also have free applications that you can download to your Smartphone or tablet device – just one more way to make your life easier!
Enjoy the ride.
Remember, a vacation is about relaxation--not perfection. The little planning you've had time for will help smooth the way, but inevitably there will be bumps in the road. Take them in stride, and you'll be well on your way to an enjoyable last-minute vacation.
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