If you’re still due for a summer getaway or just yearning for an escape after a long summer, there’s still time to take that much-needed trip to another city, trek across the country, or even go abroad. The late summer months can be the perfect time to take a trip—especially if you’re heading to a destination that’s currently in its off-peak season.
Budget-minded travelers can find dozens of last minute deals and low rates at non-traditional travel websites. Even if you haven’t had a lot of time to plan that unforgettable summer vacation, you can find unbeatable deals on hotels, flights, attractions, and travel packages around the globe.
Here are six strategies to help you snag some of those late summer travel deals:
1. Check city tourism sites.
Many major cities looking to drum up business in the sluggish late summer season post discount hotel deals and packages for tourists, as well as for locals looking for an excuse to take a “staycation.” For example, the Choose Chicago site lists dozens of hotel deals throughout the season, along with current deals for tours, attractions, dining, shopping, and nightlife. Browse websites owned by the city’s tourism board or visitor’s bureau for trip ideas and tips on local deals. Sites like these can be a great resource for putting together your own budget-friendly travel itinerary.
2. Shop the secret sales.
Willing to take a chance? Travel sites like Travelocity post Top Secret Hotels, where you can snag unpublished discounts. The catch is that you don’t know which hotel you’re booking until you complete the checkout process. Travelocity promises that the hotels participating in this promotion are all 3+ star hotels and will grant a discount of up to 55 percent off standard rates. You’ll also know what the rate is upfront and the booking is guaranteed to be the lowest price at that hotel for 24 hours after you book. Similar sites might list amenities and even a photo or two of the mystery hotel. You’ll learn what the hotel is after you’ve made and paid for the reservation.
3. Book at the last minute.
If you have a few days or a week off work for your summer vacation, be flexible with your travel dates so you can secure a last-minute package. Third-party sites, including Expedia and Hotwire, post last-minute deals daily and some can even be for same-day travel. For example, weekend rates for the Crowne Plaza Miami International Hotel posted for just $97 per night for upcoming weekend travel on Expedia’s last-minute travel section. Hotwire advertises last-minute hotel deals in the Caribbean starting at $69 per night. Keep your eyes peeled for some great bargains on hotel rooms and travel packages to save money and enjoy a low-cost summer vacation.
4. Travel over midweek dates.
If you’re looking for the lowest hotel and airfare prices during the late summer months—and especially to a coastal destination or to a city that’s in its peak season—plan on traveling during the middle of the week. Hotel rates increase significantly over the weekend and even more so as we approach Labor Day Weekend. Plan your trip a couple of weeks before Labor Day to avoid heavy crowds and choose travel dates that take you in and out of the destination in the middle of the week.
5. Go abroad.
The late summer months are the perfect time to travel to Europe or Australia. If you’re ready for a more adventurous retreat, set your sights on an overseas destination so you can secure some great rates for hotels and airfare. Do some research to find out which foreign cities are currently in their off-peak travel season so you can get the lowest possible rates on that travel package.
6. Search for local deals.
Play like a local to find discounts on area activities, restaurants, spas, and even hotels on daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. You’ll need to subscribe to different cities of interest to see these deals. You could save up to 75 percent or more on a good portion of your travel costs and end up saving even more if you’re heading to an off-peak travel destination this summer. Do your research to find out which cities listed on these daily deal sites are in their shoulder season or low season, and plan accordingly.
Sabah Karimi is a travel resources guide for financial blog Wise Bread and a writer for Yahoo.com.