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“By waiting till August or September, you can save money on a holiday,” says Down Coulson, adding that the weather is still beautiful, often well into early October. “A lot of travel merchants, such as Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline, tend to do end-of-summer sales, so there are great deals to be had.”
Summer clearances are just one way to save on last-minute travel. Here are some of Down Coulson’s tips for booking a fun, inexpensive getaway.
Find off-time departures
Love a Friday, long-weekend type of break? So do most people. That’s why Down Coulson recommends the less-popular mid-week departure, if at all possible. “You’ll get better deals on hotels and flights,” she says.
Stay outside big cities
Of course hot spots such as New York City, Toronto, London and Rome make for fantastic vacations—there’s so much to see and do. But you can still take in the best of big cities without actually staying in them. “Look to stay in a second- or third-tier city and you’ll get a better deal,” says Down Coulson. So if you want a few days in, say, San Francisco, arrive and stay in nearby Portland. You can still whisk into San Fran for the day, but won’t have to deal with the busier airport and pricier accommodations.
Use alternative services
Never before have there been more ways for the budget-conscious traveller to book accomodation. From reserving directly with regular hotels and motels, to searching for private offerings through such websites as airbnb, to making use of aggregate online sites, such as Hotwire, hotels.com and more, it’s a snap to find a space to suit your travel needs and your budget.
There’s an app for that
Travel info is as close as your smartphone. Looking for the best price for gas for your road trip? Try Gas Buddy, which shows you the cheapest gas stations in your area. Skirt around charges for international calls by using Skype, which uses Wi-Fi to route your calls. You can even book your break from your mobile with Booking Now, from Booking.com— a free app that allows users to book a last-minute holiday at one of more than 690,000 properties in just two taps—or try Hotel Tonight, an app that lets you find last-minute deals on same-day bookings.
Look for package deals
If you’re searching for discounts, it pays to shop around. Sites such as canadatravels.com, Redtag.ca and selloffvacations.com can help you find complete vacation packages at lower prices. Seek additional savings on sites such as Ebates.ca, where you can get money back on flights, hotels, packages, venues and shopping. Which all goes to show, when it comes to last-minute holidays, a little extra digging can turn into a lot of extra savings.