Hacks for Cheaper & Smarter Last-Minute Travel

There are two types of people in this world; the kind that plans ahead for anything, and the kind that rush around and do things at the last minute. Which type do you think you are? The good news is that you can learn to be a little more like one or the other (though changing completely is quite unlikely). So with that in mind, today’s post is all about planning a last minute vacation. Some planning is still required, but we’re talking weeks ahead, rather than months and months, that the ultimate planning person might want as they plan a vacation. If you want to save some money as you travel, and even be a little more spontaneous, then this is the post for you. Hope it helps!

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When To Book

There are days and times that are going to make travel cheaper, or even more expensive. So if you are looking for cheaper tickets, then it is a good idea to remember to include something mid-week in your plans. If you travel or fly home on a weekend, then often there is a premium as they know many people would prefer that as it means less time off work or school. But if you have some flexibility, then that can make a difference.

It should also be worth noting that a lot of airlines reduce ticket prices usually on Tuesdays or Sundays when the travel is for that next week. So they can be better days when you are looking for general help with flights and getting a good deal last minute.

 

Book Single Tickets

On some airlines, and particularly for train travel, as crazy as it sounds, it can be cheaper to book two single tickets separately, rather than a return ticket. So if you trip really is last minute or you need to travel for an emergency, then that can be a quick and easy way of doing things. It could also be worth using a site like Bonsai Finance to get some cash quickly. That should only be done as long as you can afford to pay it back, of course. But if an emergency trip comes up, such as a funeral or to visit family in an emergency, then it could be a help.

 

Set Fare Alerts

For flights, there are a variety of sites like Kayak and ExpertFlyer, that all offer searches on flights and allow you to check a variety of routes and airlines. But the good news with all of them is that you can set flight alerts. So the particular route that you are looking for (or have as a dream destination) will keep being searched by them, and you’ll get notified when they have a found something even cheaper than the last time that you looked. If you have a dream to go somewhere but only when things are a certain price, then it can be a good (and free) thing to set up. Then you can book right away; talk about last minute!

 

Combination Deals

Researching your own hotels to stay at or flights to take can be half of the fun of travel. However, that can take a while, and time isn’t on your side if you are planning something last minute. So it can be worth looking at combination sites, like Expedia and Priceline, as they will have the details of package deals for you. On some occasions, it can work out cheaper to book one of those, especially if food is included, rather than do it all yourself at the last minute. Who knows, you might find a bargain.

Woman Walking on Pathway While Strolling Luggage

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Travel in Off Season

Depending on where you want to go, there can be some great deals to be had, especially if you are traveling in the off-peak season. Places like Australia can be great to visit, but the peak times are usually from November to February. This can mean everything is more expensive, as it is the time when most people will visit; even the locals going to different parts of the country. Which is why going in the off-season can be a good way to get a bargain. The hotels still need to have guests, as well as restaurants and so on, but there are less of them in their winter months, like June to September, for example. The good news is that the weather is still fairly warm and dry then, so you can still get to do the things that you would want to.

This applies to any place that you’d want to visit, though. Anything from the Caribbean to Canada; they all have peak seasons and all have off-seasons, but they shouldn’t be overlooked as a destination choice.

 

Stay With Friends

If you have got friends or family in certain parts of the country, or even in different parts of the world, it can make it a much more doable trip if you have their homes as your accommodation. As long as they’ll be around to let you in, last minute trips can be made much simpler (and cheaper) when you have someone to stay with. It could eliminate the need for things like rental cars if you’re flying or on the train, as well as reduce food bills as you’ll have a kitchen to cook in. So have a think about who you know, and think about where they live.

 

Avoid Business Travel

When people are traveling for business and their work is paying for it, the price isn’t a massive factor for them. So they choose the travel times and flights that are going to be the most convenient for them. That will tend to be Friday evenings, Sunday evenings, and Monday mornings. These are often at a premium, especially on some flight routes, so it is worth shopping around, and avoiding those times, to get the best price on a last minute deal. Middle of the week (Tuesday to Thursday), are usually the cheapest days to fly out on.

The Cadillac Ranch

Our visit to Amarillo this past week was awesome! We had the opportunity to stop at the Cadillac Ranch and add our graffiti! I was able to add a little graffiti to the cars but it was hard to write a whole word because the wind was so strong the paint would fly away. It was so amazing to see how thick the paint was on the cars. People from all over the world have stopped by to make their mark on the Cadillac’s

   

In 1974 Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh had 10 Cadillac’s buried nose first in a field.  At first, the cars displayed their original paint jobs – turquoise, banana yellow, gold, and sky blue, but barely was the monument complete, when people were scratching or painting their names in the cars. Over time, vandals and souvenir hounds smashed the windows, made off with all the chrome, radios, speakers and even some of the doors. The wheels have since been welded to the axles to prevent more theft. However, Marsh still says “We think it looks better every year.”

 

The Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road, Route 66. The smell of spray paint hits you as you pass the entrance.  Tourists are always welcome at Cadillac Ranch. If you bring spray paint, make sure to snap some photos. Because whatever you create at Cadillac Ranch will probably only last a few hours before it’s created over by someone

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

During our visit to Amarillo, we had the opportunity to Visit Palo Duro State Park! It is so beautiful I would love to visit again, the park is so big I know we didn’t get a chance to see everything. We only had a few hours to visit but if we ever go back I would love to rent a cabin for a few nights, and maybe try to hike a trail.  You can explore the canyon by foot, mountain bike, horse or car. They have more than 30 miles of hiking, biking, and trails.

 

They have several beautiful campsites with water and electricity to choose from, primitive drive-up sites, equestrian sites, or backpack camping areas.  You can stay in one of three cabins on the canyon’s rim or four limited service cabins on the canyon floor. They just built  a pavilion you can also rent for a wedding, reunion or meeting

 

They also offer a musical drama called TEXAS, it runs Tuesdays through Sundays in the summer at the Pioneer Amphitheater in the park. Watch the stories, struggles, and triumphs of early settlers. The family-friendly show has singing, dancing, fireworks and lots of Texas humor!

The Big Texan Steak House

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We recently visited Amarillo Texas for the first time last week for a National Narcotics Dog competition and had the chance to visit The Big Texan Steak House.  They are not only a famous restaurant known for the Free 72oz, Steak but they have a hotel, a brewery, a zip line, and a maze. This restaurant is perfect for visitors, they offer a complimentary limo service to and from the restaurant. All you do is call and schedule a pick-up time. They will pick up from hotel, motel, and RV park in Amarillo, and a few truck stops. Local Picks ups came be made at Cavender’s Boot City, and The Starbuck’s on I40 and Grand.

 

No one in our party was brave enough to try the 72oz steak challenge but here are the rules if you are ever in the area and want to accept the challenge! Here is where the contestant will be seated for the challenge.

 

THE 72OZ STEAK RULES

Meal consists of: Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Potato, Salad, with Roll, Butter, and of course the 72 oz. Steak

  1. Entire meal must be completed in one hour. If any of the meal is not consumed (swallowed)…YOU LOSE!
  2. Before the time starts, you will be allowed to cut into the steak, and take one bite. If the steak tastes good and is cooked to your satisfaction, we will start the time upon your acceptable approval. The time will not stop, and the contest is on, so make SURE before you say “yes.”
  3. Once you have started you are not allowed to stand up, leave your table, or have anyone else TOUCH the meal.
  4. You will be disqualified if anyone assists you in cutting, preparing or eating of your meal. This is YOUR contest.
  5. You don’t have to eat the fat, but we will judge this.
  6. Should you become ill, the contest is over… YOU LOSE! (Please use the container provided as necessary.)
  7. You are required to pay the full amount up front; if you win we will refund 100%.
  8. You must sit at a table that we assign.
  9. If you do not win the steak challenge, you are welcome to take the leftovers with you.
  10. No consumption or sharing of the leftovers is allowed in the restaurant once the contest is over.
  11. If you fail to complete the challenge, you must pay the full $72 dollars.

ROUTE 66 ZIPLINE & MAZE

Imagine being able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of Starlight Ranch from the air. Suspend your fears and take flight as you zip across the entire ranch. Feel the rush of the wind in your face and the adrenaline pump through your veins as you fly high. While we pride ourselves on giving you a thrilling adventure, we also pride ourselves on our dedication to safety. Your equipment is expertly fitted and inspected each and every time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Painting

One day I saw a few posts on a friends facebook page about rocks being painted and hidden, or they can hide that same rock in a different location. This was an ongoing thing around the city parks and any business that would like to take part. I thought it was an awesome idea, and a great project for the kids to do. I thought to myself, I would love to do this with the kids but, the only problem was they were doing this in a bigger city about 2 hours away from us.  I talked about this awesome rock painting for weeks and wished we could do something like that in our city. I even considered making a day trip to visit and go rock hunting.

  

One weekend we decided to visit my in-laws at their condo in Rockport, and the kids wanted to go to the play at the park. My in-laws suggested Memorial Park, they’ve tons of great things about this park and that they have a really nice play area. Once we arrived at the park the kids jumped out of the car and started running with excitement, they had a jungle gym, rocks to climb, and cool two-person swings. The kids were running around wanting to try everything, so we just followed behind. As we strolled around waiting till they were ready to go to the next area, my husband called me over to a tree he was standing next to. As I’m getting closer he tells me to look at the tree, and to my surprise, I see a painted rock!!! I was so excited, I called the kids over to look at it! Charlie thought it was the coolest thing to find a painted rock in the park.

Now that we have found a painted rock, we decided to keep it and paint a new rock then hide it at a later date. As we walk along the trails we found a few more rocks, these were a little harder to find, but the challenge was fun! This has started our never-ending hunt for painted rocks! Everywhere we go Charlie says “mom you think they have painted rocks here?” surprisingly, we found a few rocks in our home city, thanks to Charlie always being on the hunt!

 

Our mini vacation!

This past week we had the opportunity to visit The Great Wolf Lodge for the first time, my boys are one and four, and they absolutely loved this place! I would have to say their favorite thing to do was visit the indoor waterpark, which was 85 degree at all time, this worked out well for us since we decided to go in December. This waterpark was made specifically for kids, my oldest enjoyed climbing the treehouse and coming down the two waterslides only to do it all over again! I would have to say my youngest enjoyed the Cub Paw Pool, it was perfect for his age, he could walk in on his own and play at all the stations. It was only 18 inches deep so if he would fall he could get right back up, no worries of getting stuck underwater. They had waterslides for the older kids/adults too! Mine and my husbands favorite were “the toilet bowl one” as he called it, you would slide down into a funnel that would swirl you around until it pulled you into a small hole, then you would slide the rest of the way down. There is one more huge plus for this water park, it is only open to guest staying at the lodge, so as soon as you walked up the stairs you were able to ride the slide.

 

Storytime would probably come in second! All the children staying at the loge would meet in the lobby and would enjoy ‘snow’ for about 30 minutes, then they would bring out Willy, their mascot, and have a staff member read a book and do a dance with the kids. My oldest son enjoyed the dance, he even danced a little which is not normal for him, he is usually shy when it comes to dancing and singing but they got him up and moving!! I would defiantly recommend this place for a family vacation or a birthday party.

 

This entry was posted in Travel.