How to Land Last-Minute Vacation Deals

Sometimes waiting until the last minute to settle your travel plans can work out for the better.

How to Score a Great Last-Minute  Vacation Deal

"Like" Theme Parks' Social Media Pages
If your family will want to ride a roller coaster or two this summer, follow local amusement parks on Facebook and Twitter. When attendance is lower than expected, many parks use social networks to alert followers to flash discounts, like briefly posted giveaways and 2-for-1 admission deals. The exception: Disney-owned parks. If Disney is a must, visit, an unofficial and regularly updated database of park-related bargains—for example, a limited-time offer of 30 percent off room rates—sourced from across the Web.

Timing Tip: In the past two years, Disney has raised its ticket prices in June—last year, a one-day ticket rose from $85 to $89. In case Disney follows suit this year, buy passes ASAP to lock in the lower rate.

Load Up Your Phone With The Right Apps
Surprise "summer Friday"? Take advantage of discounted hotel rates targeted at spur-of-the-moment travelers and get out of town. HotelTonight, a free same-day booking app (Apple, Android), lists rooms in more than 50 U.S. cities at rates that are 70 percent off those quoted on other sites. With the free Priceline app (Apple, Android), you can search more than 140,000 hotels for same-day bookings. Its Name Your Own Price function offers rooms for up to 60 percent off (you learn the hotel's name after you prepay for the room).

Timing Tip: Want to score a nicer room than you paid for? Check in around 4:30 p.m., when hotel clerks typically know which of the better rooms will be vacant but supervisors with authority to allow upgrades haven't yet left for the night.

Photo Credit: Flickr/ kenteegartin