Travelling is plenty of fun when you plan your trips in advance, maybe spending months sorting out all the details. But sometimes you just feel like getting away at the last minute. You want to pack a bag and head off to wherever you feel like going, whether it’s for a quick and dirty weekend away or a more extended trip. Whether you’re planning to leave tomorrow or next week, you probably still need to do a little bit of planning to make sure you have somewhere to go and somewhere to stay. It might be a spontaneous trip, but you can prepare yourself a little to make sure you’re not completely flying by the seat of your pants.
Make Sure You’re Able to Go
The key thing to think about before you set off is whether you can take the time for your trip. As much as you sometimes wish you didn’t, you do have obligations that are important, whether it’s your job or family. If you want to go away for the weekend, chances are it will be easy for you to get away (unless you work weekends). But if you want to run off on a mid-week break at the last minute, it might be a little harder to secure the time off. Even if you’re self-employed, you have more flexibility, but you probably still have clients to take care of. So before you go, make sure you can afford to take the time, and you have permission if you need it.
Come Up with a Budget
Being spontaneous is fantastic, but there is one thing you don’t want to be too spontaneous with. If you don’t set yourself some kind of budget, you could find yourself returning from your trip with empty pockets and an empty bank account. You don’t have to plan your trip to the last detail, but you need to have an idea of what kind of trip you can have. Will it be a lavish, luxury time away, or are you going to be travelling on a shoestring? Decide how much money you’re willing and able to part with before you start booking anything.
Use Tools to Help You Pick a Destination
You might already know where you want to go. But maybe you just know you want to get away, and you don’t currently know where. Not to worry if you’re a bit stuck for ideas because there are plenty of ways to find some. Firstly, you can use tools like Earth Roulette or Travel Spin, which randomly generate destinations for you. Of course, these tools may be a bit too random for you. If you only want to take a quick weekend city break, you don’t want to look at long-haul destinations. You might also find that Google Flights is a useful tool for discovering somewhere to go. If you visit upgradedpoints.com, you can find a guide on how to get the most out of the tool. To find some destination inspiration, you can use the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. You can also use the “Discover destinations” tool, which allows you to conduct a search to look for inspiration.
Check Out Last-minute Offers
If you’re still not sure where to go, or maybe you want to choose based on your budget, looking at last-minute deals is a good way to go. You can often find great deals that are discounted because a company needs to fill a space on a tour or a cancelled room. Try websites like lastminute.com or Secret Escapes, which specialise in late travel deals. You might also want to look at more general deal sites, such as Groupon. Several of these sites have a travel section offering anything from short weekend breaks to long-haul destinations. Have a look at what’s available and see what interests you. But before you book through any of these sites, remember to compare their prices to some other options. You won’t always get the best deal by going through them.
Find the Best Transport Deals
Travelling at the last minute can be very expensive, but you can also get yourself a great deal. Things like flights and train tickets can be a lot more expensive the day before you want to travel compared to a couple of weeks before you travel. It’s all a matter of supply and demand, and if there’s only one seat left on a flight, you’re probably going to pay a lot for it. However, you can still save money on your last-minute travel costs. Choosing the right destination is obviously going to help, as is comparing costs to make sure you get the best deal. You might be able to save on transport by booking it with a hotel at the same time. If you’re flying, try using Kayak to find the best time to book your flights. If you’re taking a train, you might be able to save by “splitting” your tickets using splitticketing.co.uk.
Get Somewhere to Stay
Accommodation is one thing you might sometimes be happy to leave until you arrive at your destination. You can walk into a hotel, hostel or B&B to see if they have any rooms, or do a last-minute online check to find somewhere. But if you book a couple of days or weeks in advance, you might feel more reassured and perhaps get a better deal. A spontaneous trip might have to be a short one, so having everything set up before you go could be better. If you don’t want to have to worry about cleaning or tidying, a hotel might be preferable to an apartment.
Plan One or Two Activities
Spontaneity is great while you’re travelling, but it’s a good idea to have some notion of what you want to do. If there’s a danger of you ending up wandering aimlessly, trying to decide what to do, planning one or two things will help to give some structure to your trip. It might be something big, like going on a hike for a couple of days. Or it might be something small, like visiting a museum. Picking an activity or two will just ensure that you don’t waste all your time doing nothing or have a hard time deciding what to do first.
While a bit of planning can be useful, you probably don’t want to overplan. If you try to arrange a full schedule to follow, your trip might end up feeling like a list of tasks you have to get done. You don’t want to be running from one thing to the next all the time. And while it might be a last-minute trip, it won’t leave much room for spontaneity. Try to leave a lot of your time open, so you’re able to enjoy yourself at a slower pace. You can discover things to do once you arrive, instead of planning it all from looking at TripAdvisor.
Book onto a Tour
If you want to have an adventure that you can book at the last minute, consider going on a group tour. There are lots of them for different age groups and travel types that can help you discover some new destinations. You could travel around a single country or even go on a trip that takes you through several. You’ll have a lot of things arranged for you, such as transport, accommodation, and probably some meals too. If you’re travelling at the last minute, you can usually find some good deals. There are last-minute places on tours because people have dropped out or discounts when the tour company hasn’t been able to book up their trips. You might meet some amazing new people and do some things you might not have planned to do on your own.
Make Any Last-minute Purchases
Sometimes, you’ll need to buy some things to make sure you’re prepared for your trip. Maybe you’re planning an outdoor adventure, or you’re going from a cold climate to a hot one. Before you leave, make sure you have everything you need to make your trip a success. But remember that there could be some things worth leaving until you arrive. You might save money or get better quality if you make your purchases at your destination instead.
Sort Everything Out at Home
As much as you might like to just drop everything and run away, you probably have things you need to arrange at home before going travelling. Make yourself a list of things you need to do, whether it’s paying your bills or getting someone to look after your cat. You don’t want to have to worry about what’s happening at home while you’re travelling, so don’t forget about sorting everything out in your rush to get away. Maybe you want to get someone to water your plants, check your post, or just watch over your house when you’re gone.
A last-minute trip can be a lot of fun, but you probably want to do at least a small amount of planning. If you want to stick to a budget and a timeframe, you should do a bit of organising.