Last Minute Travel Tips

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When was the last time you took a trip? If you’re a planner, living on a fixed income, you may always choose your trip details well in advance. These days, with so many apps and websites offering hotel, flight, and destination discounts, it’s highly likely you’ll stumble upon a last-minute trip opportunity that you won’t want to pass up! Did you know there are simple things you can do to help you prepare to travel on a shorter than normal timeframe?

Tips for Quick Trip Planning
Setting a travel budget is the first step to making a trip work with your household budget. When preparing for a last-minute trip, you need to know what other categories of your budget you can borrow from – like a rainy day or entertainment fund!

Transportation and lodging are most likely the biggest expenses when you travel. But that’s also where you could save the biggest chunks of money!

  • Don’t just look for flights from your local airports – check neighboring airports, too!
  • If you’re planning a road trip, rent a car that gets great gas mileage to avoid putting the miles and wear on your personal car.
  • Expand your thinking on lodging. If hotels in your destination city are unavailable or too pricey, consider some tried and true home rental websites, like HomeAway, Airbnb or VRBO. These sites offer short-term rentals that are managed by homeowners. Most listings provide pictures, descriptions and guest reviews of the properties, and you can communicate directly with the owners to make sure the accommodation meets your needs. Plus, there are free mobile apps you can download to manage your reservations on-the-go!

Once you arrive at your destination, your next biggest expense could be food and drink. To make your trip affordable, be flexible when it comes to dining out. For example, if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, go to the grocery and cook meals at home. Dining in for a few nights could add up to great savings.

If you do want to patronize local restaurants, there are still ways you can creatively save.

  • Dine out during lunchtime when prices are typically less expensive than dinner menu prices.
  • Don’t bypass the appetizer menu – they’re typically less expensive than entrees and may have dishes you’d like to have as your meal.
  • Ask your waiter about portion sizes! You may be able to split an entrée.
  • Check local papers, websites and travel guides to find restaurants with daily specials or discounted menus – like early bird, late night or happy hour.

Last Minute Travel Checklist
Keeping costs down is just part of last minute travel planning. With less time to prepare, follow this checklist to make sure you don’t leave anything out!

General …

  1. Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, body and/or facewash
  2. Medications and vitamins
  3. Chargers for electronic devices
  4. Call your bank: If you’re traveling more than 100 miles, it might be a good idea to let your bank know you’re taking a trip. What’s worse than going to pay for something and having your card declined?
  5. Kids’ items: If you’re traveling with grandkids or your children, make sure to think of things they might need to keep them entertained in transit, like crayons or coloring books.

If you’re only packing a carry-on …

  1. Think versatility! Pack clothing that can be worn more than once or in more than one way.
  2. Wear your bulkiest items – like shoes and a coat – on your plane ride to save space in your suitcase.
  3. Use vacuum-sealed plastic bags to maximize space.
  4. Take advantage of the extra space in your shoes. It’s great for packing undergarments, socks or jewelry!
  5. Don’t pack liquids over 3 ounces and be careful when packing toiletry items like tweezers.

For the home …

  1. Set your thermostats to reduce the amount of time your heat or air runs. Typically, warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter is best while you’re away.
  2. Ask your neighbor or a friend to get your mail or place a temporary hold with your local post office while you are gone to keep the mailbox from getting full.
  3. Make sure to close your blinds or curtains.
  4. Get a timer for a living room or bedroom light to automatically turn it on and off. These things will make it less evident that you are away from your home.
  5. Unplug small household appliances.
  6. Clean perishables out of your refrigerator.
  7. Take out your garbage.

Double check the list to make sure you haven’t left anything out, brush up on your travel safety tips, then enjoy your trip!

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