For the carefree and impetuous, last-minute vacations are a fantastic opportunity to live for the moment and save some cash. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to have a plan of action well in advance, the mad rush for cheap flights and accommodation has the potential to be stressful. Next time you’re considering booking a last-minute vacation, keep in mind these top tips to prevent your dream of a low-cost getaway turning into a nightmare.

  1. Choose a Vacation Rental

    While hotel rates tend to remain quite stable, except for busy periods, last-minute vacation rentals usually offer more opportunities to negotiate better value. The prices drop around September and, if you avoid peak times, you have the best chance of a good deal.

  2. Don’t Waste Time

    It may be called a last-minute vacation, but that doesn’t mean you literally have to wait for the last minute. As soon as you start getting itchy feet, fire up your computer and start looking for deals. Even one extra day of planning may be enough to prevent stress.

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  3. Go Off-Peak

    Avoiding the busiest times is the best way to get good deals. Traveling midweek means you avoid crowds and get the best prices. For the best value, plan your getaway to include a Saturday night stay.

  4. Get Value on Flights

    Getting the best value on flights gets your vacation off to a good start. Airlines often discount tickets on Sundays and Tuesdays for flights that week, so be prepared to move quickly. Furthermore, you may find it’s possible to get a better price by booking two one-way tickets rather than a return ticket.

  5. Go for a Cruise

    If the thought of battling for a cheap flight gives you cold sweats, consider a cruise instead. Such excursions are usually available cheap during March and August while prices soar during the summer and late-year holidays. Just keep in mind that onboard activities may incur additional charges.

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  6. Get Notifications

    Travel websites and airlines usually offer a subscription service so that you get weekly email blasts with the latest last-minute discounts. There are also several apps available that scour vendors in search of the best deals and cancellations.

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  7. Stay Grounded

    If you’re considering a short-haul journey, going by train is often more cost-effective, and there’s usually less competition for seats.

  8. Forget Renting a Car

    A last-minute car rental has the potential to bump up the cost of your trip. Stick to public transport and taxi services where possible. You’re on vacation anyway, so let someone else do the driving.

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  9. Join the Club

    Members of online travel sites enjoy additional benefits, including discounts on last-minute travel. Bonuses can include seat upgrades, free travel and reduced costs with company partners.

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  10. Stay Flexible with your vacation plans

    Grabbing a last-minute vacation deal means staying on your toes and, sometimes, making compromises. If you stay too set in your schedule or aren’t prepared to rearrange some plans to go a day earlier or later than you wanted to, you may end up going nowhere fast.