Sometimes it’s hard to plan ahead if everybody in your family runs on a different schedule. This is especially true for family spring break travel, where the free week off changes from year to year. However, what to do if everybody’s free time lines up last minute … like late February when a lot of things are booked solid or expensive?
Andrew Schrage, financial expert, Moneycrashers.com, suggests using social media sources to uncover last-minute specials when your favorite web travel sources don’t. Other possible solutions may seem a bit obvious … but try them anyway!
“You never know what’s going to pop up on social media,” says Schrage. “You could also use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price feature, although that might not specifically guarantee you a flight on your preferred airline. That said, you still can save as much as 80% on another carrier, including one which may have a code share with your favorite carrier. While hotel chains on social media can help as well, you can also download the Hotel Tonight app, which is targeted towards last minute deals and might include your favorite chain.”
Schrage notes the common sense rule of, “if it sounds too good to be true…” may kick in, especially in late winter when more people scramble to find last-minute deals. In this situation, a little simple math may save money and aggravation.
“You might find a bundled deal for hotel, airfare, and maybe car rental through a particular website,” he cautions. “This can seem enticing, but if you don’t run the numbers, you might be spending more in the end. House swapping is also often a stellar strategy if trying to save at the last minute, but always be sure to vet any potential tenants carefully. You don’t want to have an issue just because you’re trying to save a few bucks.”
He also suggests checking out places that happen to be “off season” or “shoulder season” in March or April. This is another sure way to save money if weather is not a big issue for your family. If the weather becomes an issue, you can simply turn to the internet (including sites like Yelp) for alternative methods of entertainment and favorite spots among the destination’s residents.
Beyond price comparisons, another good strategy to try is to approach a destination — especially if it is off-season — as if you were considering a move there. Taking this tack, you will learn far more about the destination beyond the familiar tourist draws. When you and your family live in a city “like a local,” everybody will develop a deeper appreciation for the location and area residents who will share insights on what “regular folks” do for fun. Chances are some of the hidden gems you will discover will end up making for the best memories of the trip and will be more relaxing as they won’t have the tourist throngs to contend with.