My mom and I leave on Thursday for a long weekend trip to Chicago. We booked our flights just two weeks ago, and didn’t nail down our hotel reservations until last Friday night.
As someone who normally books a few months in advance — and starts planning and daydreaming about a trip long before that — I’ve found myself in the somewhat unfamiliar role of a last-minute traveler. Forget about spending weeks leafing through guidebooks, scouring hotel reviews and seeking out inspirational travel photos on Flickr in the slow build-up to a trip. Mom and I found a complementary gap in our busy schedules and jumped at it before the opportunity slipped away.
I’ve discovered that there are things to be said for the last-minute approach — as well as a few major drawbacks.
1. There’s no danger of overscheduling ourselves. Mom and I have done enough research to pinpoint a few must-sees, but otherwise we’re going to keep our itinerary flexible and spontaneous.
2. We don’t have the torment of waiting months for a much-anticipated vacation. With a last-minute trip, you book, pack and go.
1. There’s no time to wait and track airfares in hopes that they’ll drop. The price of our flights jumped $50 a few days after we chose our travel dates — but with gas prices on the rise, I suspected we weren’t going to do any better, so I went ahead and booked. (Turns out I was right: The fares are now double what they were when I first started looking. So much for last-minute deals!)
2. Accommodation options are limited. By the time we got around to booking our hotel, a lot of interesting places were already sold out. All that was left in the affordable category were dive motels, a B&B with shared bathrooms and a few rental apartments in far-flung neighborhoods. (We went with option B.)
Do you enjoy getting away at the last minute, or do you prefer having a little more time to plan?
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.