Last-Minute Family Vacation Deals

It’s never too late to get a great price on a vacation. You just have to know where to look

Know that frequent flier miles may not pay off. Unless you have racked up enough points to pay for your last-minute trip, sticking with the same airline doesn’t guarantee you the lowest price. In fact, check to see if two one-way fares on different airlines trump the cost of a round-trip price, Merritt suggests.

Know the best days to book. While you can find a deal any day of the week, the cheapest fares are typically posted on Tuesday and Wednesday, Smith says.

Sailing the seas on a dime
Since the recession hit, the number of cruise passengers has dipped, leaving many unfilled cruise ships and a glut of lower prices, says Roy Witman, vice president of marketing for Yonkers, New York-based Cruise Vacation Center. Cruises leaving from Europe will see the greatest discounts at the end of the summer, with 80% discounts possible. “They’re also offering reduced airfare to Europe and other extras to try to get people from the U.S. and Canada to go on European cruises,” says Witman.

To make sure you book the right cruise at the best deal:
Prepare to move fast. If you can go with less than a week’s notice, you may be able to take advantage of the fact that empty cabins are lost money. “If the ship has a lot of capacity left, they’re going to discount it. They want to fill those cabins,” says Witman.

Be willing to split up. If you’re traveling with a large or extended family and need more than one cabin, you may have to stay in separate areas of the ship. “If you want to stay together on a ship then you have to book very early,” Witman says.

Consult more than one source. Checking with a cruise line directly may not yield the best results, says Witman. Travel agencies that specialize in cruises may offer a better deal because they receive commissions from cruise lines and “an agency can rebate some of that commission back to the consumer,” Witman says. Websites such as Vacationstogo.com and Cruise.com can also provide information on last-minute deals.

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