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It's Now or Never: Secrets to Booking a Last-Minute Labor Day Getaway

August 22, 2014



The window for summer fun is closing. Here are tips for your Labor Day travel (Photo: Dan Dalton/Caiaimage/Getty Images)

You’ve spent the past few weeks trying to choose among the spa weekend, the beach vacation, or the out-of-town cookout with friends. Well, now it’s crunch time: Labor Day weekend is only a week away. Lots of last-minute travelers are deciding how and where to spend the holiday. Here are some tips that you can use to plan that last-minute, end-of-summer hurrah!


Now’s a great time to head to Orlando!  (Photo: Joe Penniston/Flickr)

1.) Look at family-friendly destinations. 

The beginning of the school year might be bad news for kids, but it’s great news for bargain-hunting Labor Day travelers. Family vacation crowds tend to dwindle once school starts, so family-friendly destinations tend to have great deals designed to entice travelers during that downtime. In fact, Orlando, home of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, is ranked No. 1 in KAYAK’s list of the 10 Least-Expensive Labor Day Destinations. KAYAK says Orlando’s average hotel rate is at a rock-bottom $115, and roundtrip airfare is averaging at a decent $309. And Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, is No. 3 on KAYAK’s list; hotel rates there are averaging at about $140. So the end of summer fun for school kids just might mean the beginning of your Labor Day fun. Sorry, kids!

Related: Where America’s Going for Labor Day Weekend

2.) Book your hotel soon.

Get started on that hotel room ASAP (Photo: Georgia Kuhn/Cultura/Getty Images)

Assuming there are any hotel rooms left in your chosen destination, now’s a great time to snag one for Labor Day weekend. Hotel booking site Stayful tells us its travelers get the best deals exactly seven days out — any earlier and hotels don’t really care about discounts; any later and hotels are often near capacity and less willing to discount. So if you’re planning to travel next week, you’d do well to book your hotel as soon as you finish reading this.

Related: Cheapest Labor Day Travel Deals

3.) Consider a rental vs. a hotel. 


Rental homes might be a better last-minute choice (Photo: Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty Images)

Hotels at popular Labor Day weekend destinations can get pricey, so you may want to consider renting a vacation home. Tom Gilmore, CEO of VacationHomeRentals.com, points out one big advantage that vacation homes have over hotels: Many vacation home owners don’t jack up the price during popular travel weekends like Labor Day. “[Vacation home owners] are not as attuned to supply-and-demand forces as hotels,” Gilmore says. “They may have special rental rates for holiday weekends.” That appears to be the case for Labor Day. VacationHomeRentals.com has a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, property advertising for $100 a night and a home in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, going for $130 a night.

Related:��Use It Or Lose It: Great Deals for a Last-Minute Summer Getaway 

Gilmore also points out that vacation home owners are much more willing to negotiate prices than hotels. His suggestion: Reach out to lots of vacation homes, even the ones marked unavailable (there might have been a last-minute cancellation). “When booking a last–minute trip,” Gilmore says, “getting creative can’t hurt.”

4.) Bundle up!


Vacation bundles may be the key to holiday travel savings (Photo: Valerie Loiseleux/E+/Getty Images)

Consider getting vacation packages that include your flight, rental car, and hotel. “Savings Expert” Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com says last-minute travelers could get amazing deals, thanks to travel agencies trying to get rid of unsold Labor Day vacation packages. “They own ‘em and they don’t want to get stuck with them,” Pavini says. “They have a big incentive to sell them. You get pretty good deals as it gets closer to Labor Day.”

WATCH: How to Plan a Last-Minute Labor Day Getaway

5.) Use coupon codes.


Online coupon codes are a last-minute traveler’s best friend (Photo: Sollina Images/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Pavini also says using online coupon codes can get you Labor Day travel savings that are even better than the discounted rates you’ll find on sites like Expedia. On Coupons.com, you’ll find great Labor Day price breaks like $25 off at CheapOair, 40 percent off at Travelocity, and 30 percent off at Hotels.com.

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