Relaxation Nation: How to Take that Spontaneous Vacation

“Relaxation Nation” is Rick Limpert’s monthly column on recreation, sports technology and travel that can be exclusively found on Modern Life Discussions.

Sure the Fourth of July has passed, but there is still time to take a trip and rest your body, mind and soul.

According to the recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 80% of Americans, or nearly 196 million U.S. consumers, intend to travel this season and spend an average of $941 each on their trips.

With the help of technology and Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert who makes everyday consumers savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice, it’s time to reveal how one can book a spontaneous trip on the cheap by following these 8 tips.

Be flexible.

The key to saving on a spontaneous vacation is to be flexible about where you go and picking a place to visit based on the cheapest travel options. So while summer hot spots like Hawaiian beach resorts and Disney World will be more expensive, other destinations experiencing their off-peak season like Boston and Mexico will offer some affordable options with last-minute deals. Review the 10 Cheapest Destinations for Flights this summer to get ideas for your trip!

Pack wisely.

While spontaneity is part of the fun of booking a last-minute trip, it can result in unnecessary, costly purchases if you don’t plan what to pack. Those heading to a beach resort, for instance, will need plenty of sunscreen and waiting to buy this essential at a local shop will result in inflated prices. Even if you’re not checking a bag, you can find solid sunblock in a stick form to get through security with no hassle. Just remember to pick up such essentials before you depart using discounts like a Target coupon for $5 off $50 through CouponSherpa.com to save on everything from sunscreen to bug spray to swimwear cover-ups.

Opt for a bargain airline.

While flying bargain airlines can be an exercise in patience, they can cost you significantly less when booking a last-minute trip. Frontier Airlines, for example, is currently offer $29 one-way fares for trips between July 3 and July 16. Book a flight between Atlanta and Orlando for July 10 through July 16, and your base fare is just under $60. Even with seat selection ($10) and checked bag fees ($60), the total cost of this flight is less than $130.

Book flights with separate airlines.

Jetting off to Cancun from Denver between July 12 and July 21 might only cost $317 to consumers who book their departure flight with Delta and their return flight with United. The same itinerary booked just with United costs over $1,500, while bargain airline Frontier charges $424 including carry-on baggage fees and seat selection costs. Use Google Flights, Kayak or Orbitz to price flights from multiple airlines and find the combination that works best for your budget.

Pick up last-minute lodging for less.

Hotels offer discounted prices through third-party booking apps like HotelTonight for up to 70% off advertised rates. The catch is that guests pay for their room before they know which hotel they’re booking with, allowing these properties to offer cut-rate prices without advertising them to the general public. However, you can specify the city in which you want to stay as well as the property style, like basic, hip or luxe.

Purchase pre-booked rooms.

A site called RoomerTravel.com enables people to book hotel rooms from people who can no longer use them. For example, you can save 30% on a room at the Sandos Cancun Luxury All-Inclusive Resort between July 12 and July 21 when you book with RoomerTravel instead of the resort itself. That’s a savings of over $1,100 in this specific case! Each hotel listing features user reviews from TripAdvisor so you can select among properties with the highest reviews.

Tap into dining savings.

One of the biggest vacation budget busters is dining out for every meal, so it’s important to find cheap (but satisfying) places to eat. If you land somewhere you’ve never visited before, this can be even trickier. In addition to saving on restaurants using daily deal apps like Groupon and LivingSocial, Yelp can point you to places with high user ratings and those offering some type of discount. Filter results in Yelp by those places “offering a deal,” and redeem savings like $10 off your $20 check.

Review advance ticket purchase deals online.

You can often pay less for activities and entertainment by pre-booking tickets in advance. For example, you can save up to $25 per person at Six Flags by purchasing passes online before heading to the theme park. You can even do this from your hotel room the night before if you don’t have much time to pre-plan such activities before your departure.

If I can add one of my own in addition to Andrea’s, you can check the weather wherever you may heading with a number of weather apps and websites. Download the Weather Channel’s apps for weather updates and breaking weather news here. AccuWeather is another great option for Android device users and this app can also be turned into a widget that will live on the home screen of your device.

Safe travels, and visit AndreaWoroch.com for more information on Andrea.

Rick Limpert

Rick Limpert is an award winning Atlanta-based freelance writer, columnist, host of The Tech of Sports Podcast and best-selling author. He has covered sports, technology and events all over the world. His works have been featured on Yahoo Sports, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, nba.com and in Sports Illustrated.

Send this to a friend