Last minute vacation ideas: departing from Houston edition...
July 10, 2014 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone done the whole book a vacation the night before? If so, how? Is it worth it? Any special snowflakes with leaving from Houston? Where do I look?

Hello all!

We're based in Lake Charles, LA - a two-hour drive from east of Houston. Mr. Ashtabula and I are going to have 9 days in late August/early Sept to go anywhere for a preferably less than $1000 per person range.

I haven't tried the last minute vacation thing, but hear about people who plan their time off, wait for the weekly "cheap fares" or travel deals to come out, and then figure out everything 24 hours in advance of actually going.

Has anyone actually done this? If so, how? Is it worth it? Any special snowflakes with leaving from Houston? Where do I look?

Thanks so so much!!!
posted by ashtabula to opelika to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My recommendation is to do a Cruise out of Galveston.

You can get AMAZING last minute deals, and you won't even have to fly anywhere!

Don't wait unitl 24 hours, especially if you want to leave the country. You'll need to sort out passports, etc, especially with a cruise. Very last minute isn't the cheapest, about 3 weeks prior is the best time, and HEY, that's you!

American Airlines does a Last Minute Deals thing, but that's about a week in advance.

Travelocity sells American Airlines vacations, we did that and had a wonderful 5 day stint in New York in a suite at the Essex House.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:44 AM on July 10, 2014

I haven't done it but i think if you go with a reputable company, it should be a breeze with a 9 day window. Normally those last minute deals specifiy what days of the week you leave, so with that kind of time to work with you should be able to find something.

I would check - i don't know for sure if they leave out of houston but you can normally search with departure city and it will bring up a list of places you go all inclusive for a per person price. watch it though sometimes the deals are hotel only. still a good deal, but have to factor in airfare.

Same thing with airline websites. Southwest is having a sale right now that goes through that time frame. don't know if the deal applies to out of country flights or not. is a good one too - list the deal and then mostly you book through the hotels website. i have used this, but not last minute.

I would start checking sites now though- who knows you might find the perfect deal a month ahead of time and not have to gamble on finding something last minute. 1000 is a pretty decent budget if you can get reasonable airfare and are flexible on lodging.
posted by domino at 7:44 AM on July 10, 2014

Southwest Vacations is pretty good for this. Hint: they are now doing near-US overwater flights to Mexico and the Bahamas.

The other thing is to call a travel agent (yeah, those people still exist!) and ask about your options. If you give dates and budget, they can quickly tell you what they have available. Make sure you book through them so they get their (meager) commission.
posted by 26.2 at 9:58 AM on July 10, 2014

I booked one of my best vacations just a few days out. Decided I was going somewhere for spring break that year after all. I've also booked longer trips and only taken care of housing for the first day or two, then worked out the rest during the trip. (Applies to both US road trips and trips in various parts of Europe.)

If you have some locations in mind, you basically just need to take care of transportation and make sure you have a place to sleep. The rest can all be worked out as you go (as can some of the sleeping and minor transportation, if you're cool with that).

I think airfare is the tough bit here, especially over the summer. I really lucked out on my crazy spring break trip (Bali) and got an award ticket at the low mileage tier. But over the last 5ish years, I've had very little luck getting cheap (paid) plane tickets last minute.
posted by ktkt at 3:53 AM on July 11, 2014

I think you should have a viable Plan B just in case things don't work out. Something that is "always available" with no real planning, like driving along the coast and staying at a big chain hotel for a few days. Or a few fun things to do in town as a Staycation or 2 hours away in Houston doing easy last minute things.
posted by CathyG at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2014

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