Live Talk Transcript: Last Minute Getaways
Jason Cochran answers your questions
The Web has transformed the way we travel. Need proof? You're using it right now to get vacation advice.
According to a 2002 study by the Travel Industry Association of America, 64 percent of leisure travelers planned trips within just two weeks of departure. The same study also found that one in five travelers used the Internet to book. Last-minute travel isn't just a trend. It's the way many Americans vacation now.
In fact, it's the Internet, and the technology that fuels it, that made the last-minute boom happen so quickly. A generation ago, last-minute deals were so hard to find they were virtually nonexistent except to a select group of insiders. Today, the biggest bargains in travel crop up on the Internet daily. Think fast and pack faster-you could discover the markdown of your life.
But to find the deals, you must be in the know. Where to book, when to book, and what to expect.
What are the tricks of last-minute travel? Post your questions-and your tips!-and we'll spend an hour comparing notes and revealing the secrets that will get you the best last-minute deals.
Have a question about last-minute travel? Jason answered your questions Tuesday, February 3, at noon EST.
Jason Cochran is Senior Editor of Budget Travel magazine. In addition to writing for publications such as Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, and Arena, he wrote questions for the first season of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He recently spent two years backpacking around the world, visiting six continents and over 40 countries. A current resident of New York City, he has also lived in Chicago, Atlanta, Key West, and Cape Town, South Africa.
Jason Cochran: The hour has come! It's time to begin. We're talking last-minute bargain hunting here-with a few general travel questions tossed in for variety. Fire away!
Lumberton, NC: With so many discount cruise agencies, how does one really know that they are getting the best deal available on a specific cruise?
Jason Cochran: That used to be a quandary. Until recently, you just had to run around to every site you could think of until you declared a winner. But a new site called CruiseCompete.com has emerged. It works like this: You go to that site and plug in what kind of cruise you want (length, where-even the specific ship), and then, lots of different cruise companies receive your request for information. For the next few hours, You'll receive e-mailed bids (don't worry-the cruise lines will have no way to contact you twice if you don't like their offers). Take the lowest one. It's one-stop shopping. Not every cruise company is on that site, of course, but plenty are. There's a service on CruiseMates.com that is kindasorta the same-between the two sites and the dozens of bids they'll show you, you'll feel confident in your final price.
Great Neck, NY: I am looking for a vacation of GUARANTEED sun at a beach. What do you suggest?
Jason Cochran: The only sands with guaranteed sun would probably be on Mars. Unless you have your own rover, though, you'll have to head for a place with PROBABLE sun, and for that, I submit Aruba, Bonaire, or Curacao. In the deep Caribbean, they lie outside the Hurricane Belt, which means they're more or less insulated from the weather patterns that hamper tourism in other parts of the Caribbean Sea. Keep in mind that places with minimal rainfall are going to be light on vegetation and won't feel as lush as you might want. Otherwise, for guaranteed sun, head to a place that's more or less a desert. Namibia comes to mind, though the Atlantic is cold in those parts. Morocco is another consideration. But I suspect you were thinking closer to home, right?
Tampa, FL: How I find good deals on hotels in London and the UK at the last minute?
Jason Cochran: There's a snazzy site called LateRooms (http://www.laterooms.com/), operated out of Manchester, UK, that provides exactly what its name suggests. I also like CheapNights (now called http://www.cheapaccommodation.com/--as if that's easier to spell!), an offshoot of a popular British flight search engine called CheapFlights. I just checked CheapAccommodation a moment ago, and I found rates as low as £43 at a 3-star property in Bayswater, a popular tourist-hotel district north of Hyde Park. That price is about as good as you can get for central London accommodations. Lastly, try Octopus Travel (http://www.octopustravel.com/), which sells successful air-hotel packages but also deals in hotel-only sales; it has a wide inventory.