It’s a New Year! And, your resolution to travel more is waiting for your first trip. Tic Toc Tic Toc. How about this weekend? Yes, it’s last minute, but why not? Come on seize the day, YOLO (You Only Live Once).
What are you waiting for? Are you worried about budget? Did you know that as a last minute traveler, you can score some excellent deals (or rather steals) that the type A, planners don’t get. So, if you’re ready to pack your bags for last minute travel to Spain, Malta, Morocco, Cyprus, Indonesia, or another exotic bucket list destination, read a post written by my peer travel writer and adventurera, Suzy. Ready, set, travel.
Travelling, especially solo travel, means freedom to many people – there’s something liberating about being able to choose where you’re going next, when, and how you’re getting there. Being able to get up and go whenever you feel like has to be one of life’s true luxuries. Last minute travel can also be problematic, however – it can be expensive if you don’t time it right, and too many hasty departures can leave you exhausted.
So, apart from trying to avoid any awkward situations with your hostel buddies that might make you feel like leaving town in a hurry, how can you strike the balance between fleet-footed liberated travel, and just being in a flustered hurry all the time? And what’s the best way to take advantage of last minute travel deals?
Let’s look at the last one first. Deciding to go somewhere on a whim, and insisting that you leave on this day and no other, is likely to end up being the expensive sort of last minute travel. Unless you get lucky and find a tour operator who hasn’t been able to sell as many seats as expected, prices usually increase when you’re not booking in advance.
In some countries it can be difficult to travel last minute. India’s famously convoluted train ticket purchasing system, for example, is constantly improving (although if you can navigate the official Indian railways website with ease, you should probably apply to MENSA) but train seats and berths get booked up weeks or even months in advance. A quota is reserved for tourists, but it can be as few as two seats per train, so you might have to wait a few days before one is available.
The benefit of always being prepared for last minute travel, however, is that you can take advantage of available seats – and other limited travel offers – providing you are happy to hang around where you are while you wait. If you absolutely can’t stand to stay there a day longer – or maybe your visa is about to run out – you will probably won’t want to wait. If this is the case, and there are no (affordable) seats going to your first choice destination, would you consider being flexible about where you’re going? It can make a lot of sense to flip the situation upside down and say “right, this is my budget – where can I go for that cost on the day I want to leave?”.
You may need to factor in time for necessities like getting visas and jabs – something else that can make a mockery of that care-free, seat of the pants travel style that so many travellers romanticise. However, having factored in administration – and national security threats – maintaining a certain flexibility about your next destination can make the difference between forcing yourself down an expensive route because you refuse to budge, and discovering all sorts of things you hadn’t counted on seeing.
**Post in collaboration with Travelzoo and Suzie Saw, an independent writer who loves wandering, being outdoors, gazing at maps (especially railway maps), & looking forward to her next expedition.