Hey GMG readers, it’s Thomas back again for another Thomas’ Travel Tuesday Takeover. Today’s Topic: Last minute trip planning tips. If possible, I would recommend you avoid the habit of booking last minute trips, but sometimes a last minute trip is exactly what you need to hit refresh. If done right, you can even wind up saving some money. In the last year, Julia and I have become the last minute trip masters. We have so much going on, especially with launching Gal Meets Glam Collection, that we’ve had to plan for flexibility in our schedule. What that means is we’ve needed to add last minute trips to NYC for work as well as short getaways more than once. In fact, the trip to Mérida, Mexico which we are on at this very moment, was all booked less than a week in advance (due to some unforeseen weather conditions for the one we had planned). There are a few tips which we’ve picked up along the way that I’m sharing so you can use them on your next last minute trip.
Book all at once:
When you book last minute, chances are you’ll be fighting for whatever is left as far as inventory. That’s why it’s really important to knock out all of your planning and booking in one sitting. If you are traveling with someone else, make sure they are by your side so that you both can make quick decisions. At a minimum, this would be your flights and lodging. As long as you have a place to sleep and a way to get there, you can plan other things like meals and activities a little later.
Gain inspiration from monitoring flight and hotel deals:
Sometimes the best inspiration for last minute travel comes in the form of a deal that’s too good to pass up. Almost every travel company or booking service has a deals section. Tablet, one of our favorite sites for hotel bookings, has a section for deals as well as any last minute deals. For flights, I frequently check The Points Guy as a resource for big sales, especially on our favorite airline, Delta. Monitoring deals across any destination is great if you have flexibility on where you are willing to go, but sometimes you already have a destination in mind. If you are flexible on dates, that’s when price alerts come in handy. Airfarewatchdog is a very cool site that’s worth exploring. You can watch either specific routes or any routes out of your home airport and it will alert you when prices are optimal.
Use every resource you have for recommendations:
For those over planners out there, booking last minute trips can be a little worrisome. When you book months in advance you have months to prep and discover things to do. When you book last minute, you need to accelerate that learning process so you don’t wind up in a new place with no itinerary. My advice is to use every resource you can to find for recommendations. For step one, start a new document where you’ll record every recommendation that grabs your attention, no matter the source. Message friends that you know have been to your destination, and open up to your network for advice, either on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Next, search through blogs and other publications, since many people like to write and share lists, either in the form of itineraries or numbered lists, which is a quick way to grow your own itinerary.
As you continue on this process you might have some duplicate recommendations, so make sure to tally those up. Those with 3, 4, 5 or more mentions are most likely ‘can’t miss’ spots (unless you’re using Tripadvisor). We’ve found that Pinterest can be a useful source for publications and blogs you’ve never heard of. The articles are sometimes more clickbait than real substance, but occasionally you’ll find some great resources. Next, a pro-tip (and potential major rabbit hole) is Instagram Location and Hashtag exploring. More recently, IG Stories have even been a helpful addition to location tags and hashtags. At a minimum, Instagram searching is a great way to get a sense of what the experience at your desired destination will really be like. You won’t have time to have a perfectly timed itinerary, but you can take the big list you’ve just put together and do a round of refining. Make a list of 1-2 must-do things per day and then save backup ideas onto Google Maps. That way, if you find yourself close to a B or C location, you’ll be able to quickly add it to your trip with ease.
So those are my tips for last minute travel. What tips do you have?