How to Take a Super Affordable Last Minute Vacation

Eager to take a trip, but didn’t make plans ahead of time? No problem! These tips show you how to squeeze in a super affordable last minute vacation.

This post is sponsored by Discover, however, all opinions and misery over the end of Summer are 100% mine.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Eager to take a trip, but didn't plan ahead? No problem! These tips show you how to squeeze in a super affordable last-minute vacation. Psst...sometimes you can score even BETTER deals!

I enjoy planning vacations just as much as I love going on them. The anticipation of a week {or weekend} away where I get to explore new places and try new restaurants is one of my favorite things to do!

While it’s ideal to plan a vacation a few months in advance, it’s also not a deal breaker. There are plenty of affordable options that last-minute vacations can still offer you. And some are even better deals than if you planned ahead!

So with the dog days of summer finally coming to a close, there’s no reason to embrace the busy fall schedule quite yet. Use these tips to squeeze in that last-minute vacation…and of course, make it super affordable.

1. Clear Your Computer Cookies

In case you didn’t know this, there are little trackers called “cookies” that keep an eye on your browsing history.

Now, I can’t confirm this for sure since I’m not a technological guru or anything, but supposedly, these “cookies” can increase the prices of airfare and hotels, because your browser knows you’re looking to make a purchase. Thankfully, this only takes a few minutes to correct!

If you’re using Chrome, go into the HISTORY tab on your browser {located at the very top}, and select SHOW FULL HISTORY. Click CLEAR BROWSING DATA, and make sure cookies are selected. This gives you a clean slate so you know you are getting the best price possible.

computer cookies

2. Travel on Off-Peak Days

Just like there are peak seasons and off-seasons, there are peak days and off-days. Those off-days are where you’ll find loads of savings!

For instance, if you’re flying, choose a flight that arrives and departs on Tuesday thru Thursday. If I’m not committed to a certain date, I like to leave my searches pretty flexible. That way, I can easily see price changes from day to day, and thus, snag the lowest possible option.

You should also look into the Discover it Miles card before you book any ticket. Families can earn 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent while on a weekend getaway—or any getaway for that matter. Plus, with Discover Cashback Match®, Discover will match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardmember!

Discover Miles

On the flip side, if you’re driving to your destination, try leaving on Sunday instead of Friday. Most weekenders leave Friday and get back on Sunday, so they can start work Monday morning. This leaves a lot of hotel rooms free on Sunday nights, and gives you a chance at a better deal.

3. Go Camping

I wouldn’t say I’m a huge “roughing it” fan, but in a pinch, Joseph and I have reserved multiple campground sites with our trusty tent. You can generally get a campsite for as low as $20, and these were budget lifesavers when we took our New England road trip a few years ago.

Another tip is to invest in a good air mattress. If I have to sleep on the ground, I want something super comfy without a tree root in my back. 🙂 This is similar to the one we have, and after five years, it’s still going strong.

4. Stay at an Airbnb

A few months ago, I attempted my first Airbnb stay. I have to say, I was SO impressed—I even wrote an entire blog post about it!

From what I’ve found, Airbnb’s are much more affordable than hotels, and come with a ton of extra amenities. You are not obligated to stay in someone’s guest room either…they have plenty of condos, cabins, and houses for rent if you prefer something a little more private.

If you’ve never used Airbnb before, make sure to sign up through Creative Savings before you book. That link gives you $30 off your first stay!


5. Book a Cruise

A cruise sounds pretty expensive, right? The kicker is it’s really not…especially if you book last minute.

Most travelers plan for a cruise months in advance, which always leaves a few cabins open at an insane discount. The cruise companies would rather fill up their ship than leave those rooms empty, so they offer them at a bargain price.

To see if this was really true, I searched for a cruise going out of Fort Lauderdale, FL in the next few weeks, and found a balcony room at just $745 per person. Normally these run about $2,000, and get this—it was a 7-day all-inclusive cruise to the Bahamas!

6. Browse Groupon Getaways

Groupon is another great site to book hotels, cruises, and even golf packages for less. Many discounts land in 25-65% off mark, which is huge! Some also include airfare, turning it from a deal, into a steal.

I cannot stress this enough—always check the fine print before you commit to a deal. You want to know about hidden fees {like a cleaning fee} before you click that purchase button. If you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification either. There is usually a message board pertaining to each deal.

Also, sometimes Groupon will email you a voucher to complete your reservation at the actual hotel. Keep your eyes open for this so you don’t skip over it!

Groupon Getaways

7. Don’t Forget Anything

Avoid last-minute expenses with this editable packing list!

Itching to go on a vacation now? You can do it! Just remember to set a reasonable budget, then explore the options and destinations available to you.

And if you’re not ready to go on a vacation quite yet—maybe you’re still saving or have little ones at home, now is a great time to save up for one. Start a new savings account specifically for this purpose or create an extra column in your current account.

Psst…with a Discover Savings Account, you’ll earn a savings rate of 0.95 percent, which is more than five times the national average. I recommend putting at least $15-20 a month toward your fund to start. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up!

Want more? If you are looking for more ways to manage money better, including ideas for spending less on travel, you’ll want to check out this resource page where I’ve compiled more than 60 amazing posts for you!

What are your favorite last-minute vacation tips?


Discover stands by their mission to help consumers spend smart and save more, by providing the best products and programs for their money. In addition to branded credit cards, Discover also offers private loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. You can learn more about Discover HERE.

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. A year ago, we booked a really last minute cruise (like less than a month before sailing last minute) and we got such a great deal on Norwegian cruise lines. We were able to book four people on a cruise plus cruise taxes etc (which these can be easily 100 on their own each) for $2,000. While this might sound really pricey, for the cruise we went on it was a steal! Plus we each got $25 of onboard credit to use at no additional cost.

  2. Your tip on clearing cookies was one I had never heard but it makes perfect sense. I used to fly frequently back and forth to Seattle and always noticed that the fares jumped after my first check. I had to research fares and datees to figure out the best iitenerary but the fares would jump right away.

    After reading your tip, I may go to Starbucks on DH’s laptop to research, then come home to mine, clear cookies and book the flight I want.

    Thank you so much! People will coupon and work so hard to save 50 cents on a bag of cookies. Think how much this tip will save us.

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