By Dana Amihere
T-minus 14 days until spring break…do you have a plan? If you are one of the many people who procrastinate on everything, including their travel plans, then this is for you.
Flying stand by is the ultimate last-minute travel trick-of-the-trade. Rather than buying a ticket which guarantees you a seat, you show up to the airport several hours before a flight and hope that there are seats left. Downside: obviously, the flight may be sold out. Upside: you can sometimes fly for next to nothing. AirTran has a travel program designed exclusively for people aged 18-22. AirTran U is ideal for broke college students who prefer not to plan. For $49, $69 or $99 you can fly most major travel routes across the country.
For the no muss-no fuss approach, try looking for a package deal which includes your flight, hotel, taxes and fees. Everything is booked with the click of a mouse for one flat rate. Travelocity.com, home of the Traveling Gnome, allows you to search last-minute travel packages by dates, cities, or even interest (i.e. beach, ski, luxury, under $250, etc.).
Hotwire.com has several planning tools which are essential for the last-minute traveler. If you don’t really care what dates your trip begins or ends, try the Flexible Date Search. Enter your trip parameters and the search tool will give you a list of the lowest airfares over a 30-day period. If you don’t have the cash to travel very far, the Go Local Search is a nifty tool. If you have a local destination in mind, the site will find the best hotel rates within a 250-mile radius for the specified dates and number of travelers.
Understandably, the longer you wait to book a flight or a hotel, the harder a good one will be to find. But, even with only a few weeks until D-Day, there are still some deals to be had. Waiting until the last minute does have its advantages. Airlines, hotels, and the like are often looking to book unsold flights and rooms for cheap so that they don’t lose money on them being unfilled. STA Travel.com, a student-centered travel site, offers last-minute flight discounts which are available from two weeks up to three hours before departure.