Last-minute cheap travel tips?
November 6, 2008 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Me and my friends would like to go somewhere warm this February. We don't care where, and we would be fine with booking at the last minute. How do we get a great deal?

February is coming and we're not getting caught off-guard. We're gonna need to get the heck out of Canada and give our S.A.D. some sun.

We don't care where we go as long as it's hot, sunny, and laid-back. A rented villa in a hot country, or an all-inclusive resort, or even a cruise would be fine.... we're not picky. Overall, we're looking for relaxation more than adventure (although local activities & food would be great).

Flying standby or getting a last-minute deal would be awesome. I've heard of people going all-inclusive (flight+room+food) from Canada to a Cuban resort for under $400/person, which would be a dream come true!

There are 4 of us- no couples, so we can all sleep in one room if need be.
Our outside dates are approx. Feb 14-22, 2009, for all or part of that time.
A rough budget might be around $600 per person, give & take.
We're all Canadian citizens with valid passports & no history of travel problems.
The catch: One person would fly out of Vancouver, the other 3 from Toronto.

Any resources, websites, stories of how you did this, or other advice would be much appreciated!
posted by pseudostrabismus to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'd fire up Kayak Buzz with your city's airport as the origin, and the Caribbean, Mexico + Central America options as your destination. Set the time frame to February, and there's a list of your options. This will give you a rough idea of how much you can plan on spending to fly to different places. Once your there (wherever), you can stay in accommodations, and plan activities, that align with your budget.

Forget about finding a last-minute deal by just showing up at the airport with a backpack and an open mind. Those days are pretty much gone.
posted by nitsuj at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2008

A budget of $600 per person including airfare?
posted by rhizome at 12:14 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Recent example: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
From Vancouver: Air and 7 nights in a 4-star all-inclusive hotel $599
I don't think that includes taxes, however.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:44 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had good experiences booking with itravel2000 to travel to Cuba and Mexico last-minute. But the same deals were available from other websites (SelloffVacations, Belair Travel, etc.) I don't think it matters that much who you book it through, the last minute deal is offered by the vacation company (Sunquest, AirCanada Vacations, etc.) I just like the customer service I received when booking by phone with their agents, because I don't like booking with online forms if I can avoid it.

But to get the best deal, you should be flexible with your departure date -- sometimes leaving a day or two later will save you a hundred dollars or more. Try departing on a Tuesday or something, instead of on a weekend. Try to avoid dates that coincide with Canadian university spring break.

And when you're not sure about the resort - TripAdvisor reviews are good, but I found Debbie's reviews to be more helpful.
posted by kaudio at 1:16 PM on November 6, 2008

Just a tip, I was playing in that Kayak site and it wouldn't search for any destination in Cuba (even though Pearson was my starting ariport) because of US travel restrictions.
posted by LunaticFringe at 1:23 PM on November 6, 2008

I had great luck booking through I got a 5-day $875 (USD) all-inclusive to the Dominican Republic. We found the package in early June and traveled in mid-August. Note: that's the off-season to travel to the Caribbean, so prices would probably be higher for Feb. The site seems to have pretty active deals, and though the interface was ugly enough at the time to make me doubt its legitimacy, it really was a perfect experience.
posted by juliplease at 1:27 PM on November 6, 2008

Have you looked at
posted by girlpublisher at 4:04 PM on November 6, 2008

I've used selloffvacations a bunch, with good results. One time we did end up getting moved to a different resort for a few days, but were given a free all-inclusive week to make up for it, so it worked out pretty well. Oh hell what am I saying, "pretty well" we went to Mexico twice in a year and it was AWESOME!!! hot damn I love mexico.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:32 PM on November 6, 2008

I'm a fellow Canadian who's had good experiences with Used them for a couple of trips, no complaints, significant discounts.
posted by lindsey.nicole at 5:03 PM on November 6, 2008

Your profile suggests you're in Toronto, so here are a few more things to add:
- Count yourself lucky to be in TO. You'll have a lot of beach vacation travel options.
- Remember that most listed prices don't include taxes. They typically run a few hundred dollars more.
- A $400 vacation is unlikely, unless you're excluding taxes, or just spending a few days in Vegas. For example, the cheapest hot, non-Orlando vacation listed on Bel Air Travel right now is to the Dominican Republic, and works out to $750 per person, taxes included.
- If you're not picky about accommodations or proximity to the beach, try Orlando. There's a Bel Air deal for $430 per person (including taxes) for five days.
- As someone who's tried a few times to line up a rented villa (or a B&B, or something fun and authentic) in a hot country, it's inevitably cheaper to book a stay at a discount all-inclusive resort. At least, for short trips.
posted by lindsey.nicole at 5:21 PM on November 6, 2008

Should have said that the prices I listed were for the first week in February. There may be cheaper deals later in the month.
posted by lindsey.nicole at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2008

Only issue precluding cheap that week, it's the one some US school districts have off for February break. While that may not hit your airfare coming from Canada, may mean prices at destinations aren't as cheap.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:23 PM on November 11, 2008

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