Burned up, burned out or just plain
When you just can't wait
any longer for that planned vacation
still months away, last-minute vacation
getaways are easy and fun to find on
Even if you're not sure
where you'd like to go, several travel
sites are ready and willing to help
you plan your weekend getaway from start
“... Airlines are evolving online travel to the next level of relevance for the consumer. ...”
A good place to start? Lastminute.com.
The site is designed especially for
last-minute travel packages. "You
can find the best last-second deals."
says Giovanna Garlati public relations
and communications manager at lastminute.com
U.S. "The choice of destinations
is really wide so it's ideal for people
with busy agenda."
If you don't already have a destination
in mind, Lastminute.com will help
you decide what kind of getaway
you're looking for whether it's
skiing in Colorado or sunbathing
in the Caribbean. Its "idea
box" feature allows you to
choose from different types of
vacations, including sun and beach,
romance, casinos or offbeat trips.
The only downside to the site
is that you can't book just a
flight independently; you must
combine a flight with either accommodations
or car rental. You can, however,
book just a car and hotel if you
plan to book a flight on your
and content also power the last-minute
and getaway sections of Travelocity,
AOL Travel, Cheap Tickets, Yahoo! Travel,
American Airlines Vacations and Delta
Air Lines Vacations. It's owned by Sabre
Holdings, the same company that owns
the European version of LastMinute.com.
So, don't be surprised if the same flight
options and hotels keep popping up throughout
Alternatives to Lastminute.com
which has a "Deal Detector"
page that offers a deal of the week,
which offers a last-minute travel deals
section, as well as a tip box for finding
last-minute fares. "Occasionally
these third-party sites will pick up
on last-minute fares offered by different
airlines but they won't get them all,"
says Elissa Richard, airlines editor
at Sherman's Travel magazine and associate
editor at Sherman's
Travel, a company that compiles
deals and offers from airlines, vacation
package providers, cruise lines, hotels
Richard also suggests visiting the airlines directly
to get a more holistic view of the deals that are out
there. The carrier sites offer other perks, too -- they
allow you to book last-minute flights independently,
in case you don't want to buy a package -- and their
deals include both domestic and international travel.
Most of the airlines also offer weekly e-letters, which
you have to sign up for. These e-letters conveniently
arrive in your inbox on a Monday or Tuesday, just in
time for you to sort out your weekend plans. If you'd
rather not receive e-mails from the airlines, you can
visit their sites directly as they often post their
Some airlines are making
it even easier to access their deals.
Henry Harteveldt, vice president and
principal analyst with Forrester Research
who follows travel trends, recommends
checking out Southwest
Airlines' downloadable "Ding"
tool which brings live, updated offers
directly to your desktop with a chime,
allowing you to get a jump on the latest
fares. Currently, no third-party site
offers fares from Southwest, so you
must book it directly from the airline's
site. "This feature is a perfect
example of how airlines are evolving
online travel to the next level of relevance
for the consumer," says Harteveldt.
If you'd rather have the deals come to you in a comprehensive,
neatly packaged way, check out Sherman's
Travel and Concierge,
all of which specialize in screening the best last-minute
deals on the Web and consolidating them for you in an
If price is the most important
factor in your travel decisions, you
may want to check out Hotwire and Priceline.
Neither site will let you see flight
times or airline carriers until your
credit card has been accepted. But Hotwire
lets you see the price before you buy
the ticket, whereas priceline.com doesn't
show you the price until after you've
placed a bid. Hotwire also reveals if
your flight is a red-eye.
"These sites tend to offer less expensive
tickets, but they do come with many trade-offs,"
says Bill McGee, a consultant for Consumer Reports WebWatch,
a project of Consumers Union. "For the regimented
traveler, saving a few bucks may not be worth it."