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To Vacation Abroad Last Minute or not?

Contributing Author May 5, 2021 5

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Thinking of booking a last minute vacation abroad? While there ARE several benefits (we love the spontaneity of it all) to booking last minute, there could also be a number of drawbacks. Here are some of the pros and cons of a last minute vacation weighed up – and a few tips for making a last minute vacay work.

a man sitting in an airplane looking out the window
Jake is no stranger to a last minute vacation abroad. Cathay Pacific flight HKG-ICN.

The pros

Last minute discounts

One of the big reasons people book a vacation abroad last minute is to access cheaper prices.  Airlines can slash the prices of flights nearer the time in order to book up empty seats. Hotels similarly may do the same thing in order to fill any empty rooms they may have lying vacant. In some cases, you could end up cutting your vacation costs considerably! This guide at Good Housekeeping lists a few great sites and apps to look for last minute deals. 

Less threat of cancellation

The world is still in the midst of a pandemic and it’s difficult to know exactly when countries will have their borders open (and whether they’ll close again). Booking closer to the time can give you a better idea of what the situation is like in a certain country so that you know whether to book or not. You also don’t have to worry about other unprecedented disasters ruining your vacation plans (natural disaster, etc). If you’re not sure whether you’ll have to cancel a vacation due to personal disasters such as sickness, a last minute vacation could also give you a better idea of how you’re likely to feel at the time. 

a window with water drops on it
Last minute travel can give you a clearer picture of the weather during your trip.

More accurate weather reports

Booking a last minute vacation abroad could give you a better idea of what the weather is likely to be like. If you’re looking for somewhere to get some winter sun, you can look into countries that are warm at that time of year. In summer, you may also be able to get a better idea of which countries haven’t got into their rainy season yet. All in all, it’s a better way to secure sunny weather.

The thrill & therapy of it!

If you’re the type of person that likes to be spontaneous (see opening paragraph), a last minute vacation abroad could be very fun. You won’t have to wait longingly for months and it may reduce some of the stress of planning in advance. If you’re feeling down, booking a last minute vacation abroad may even be the perfect pick-me-up (lots of people book last minute vacations in January and February when they’re feeling the post-holiday blues).

Siem Reap Night Market
A favorite last minute trip of ours. A night market lights up the night in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The cons

Fewer options to spread out the cost

While you may be able to get cheaper prices, booking last minute means that it may be harder to break up the total cost leading up to vacation time – which for some people can work out easier to afford. You don’t have time to save up spending money either. Instead, you’ll likely need to pay everything upfront. For this reason, many people can’t afford to book a last minute vacation on a whim without taking out a loan (please don’t do that). 

Limited availability

By waiting until only a few weeks before, you could increase the risk of certain hotels or flights being already fully booked. When you book far in advance, you have more choice as to when you want to fly out and where you want to stay. You don’t have to worry about the most convenient flight times being unavailable or the best hotels having no vacant rooms left. 

Less time to plan and prepare

Planning and preparation could be necessary when booking a vacation abroad. If you work for an employer, you’ll likely have to give warning of when you want to book holiday several weeks in advance. You may also need to arrange a pet-sitter or a house-sitter for when you’re gone, which is something you might need to do in advance. You may not have time to renew your passport. Even visas can take several days to process – if you’re applying for a visa on the ESTA America website or another country’s visa application site, this could be something to consider. Then of course you may need to book tickets to certain attractions in advance or shop for certain clothing. All in all, you may not have the time to adequately make plans. 

Those very last minute price spikes

Although prices of flights and hotels tend to drop a couple months before the date, you should be wary of booking TOO last minute. In the last couple weeks before the date, prices can sometimes shoot up. This is because a lot of people shopping for flights and hotels may be doing it as a matter of emergency (or the spontaneity of others) so airlines and hotels are able to take advantage of this. This is not always the case with solely-vacation destinations, but can be the case with cities where a lot of people book last minute flights to see loved ones or for urgent business matters. 

a man standing in front of a door with a sign
Let’s get that last minute trip abroad booked!


Should you book that last minute vacation?

Ultimately, the choice is yours as to whether you’re willing to book a last minute vacation abroad. You could save money – or you could lose a lot of money if it goes wrong. 

By making compromises, you may be able to increase the chance of a last minute vacation being a success. Below are just a few tips to help make a last minute vacation work:

  •         Don’t book TOO last minute. Between 6 weeks and 2 weeks in advance if often the sweet spot for getting good prices before they go up again. This could also give you enough time to make certain plans and get necessary documentation together.
  •         Consider booking time off work in advance. This can often prevent many people from booking a last minute holiday because they have to give notice. You could book some time off work six months in advance – but not book the vacation until only two or three weeks beforehand. This could allow you to still access the cheap prices. You could even hold off looking at places until a couple weeks before in order to give it a more spontaneous feel. 
  •         Take advantage of off-peak season. You’re more likely to want a last minute getaway in November or February and the prices will be even cheaper at this point. You’ll also be able to get a better idea of what the weather is like. 

·         Accept that you may have limited options. There are some attractions that you have to book several months in advance. Avoid booking a last minute vacation to destinations where you want to visit these types of attractions.

Share stories and pics of YOUR last minute vacation abroad @modhop on twitter or instagram.

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Contributing Author

General travel tips and advice on destinations, hotels and flights.

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