How to Fit in One Last Vacation Before School Starts

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Summer is coming to a close, and most of your family’s getaway plans will have to be put on hold for another year…or will they? Believe it or not, it’s still possible to have one last family vacation before school starts and the craziness of the school year begins. We spoke with family vacation experts to get their takes on how you can fit in one last vacation and still get a great deal.

Make a short list and set up alerts. 

Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Vacation Critic, recommends planning ahead and setting up notifications to alert you to excellent last-minute deals. “If you’re specifically looking for a great deal, narrow down your list of possible destinations and focus specifically on tracking deals to each location — check hotel/resort and convention and visitors’ bureau websites for last-minute deals, follow destinations on social media for flash sales, and sign up for email lists to be alerted of deals as they’re announced. Also, take a look at vacation home or condo rentals, as they may have openings to fill.”

Look for local opportunities.

Janet Groene of SoloWomanRV recommends seeking out local yet worldly opportunities. “Understanding world cultures is an important reason for families to travel, but why spend time and capital in the chaotic airline world when there is probably a quick, educational, ethnic vacation within a half day’s drive of your home? Go French in Quebec, visit an area with a large Native American population, spend time among Amish in Ohio and Indiana, or immerse yourself in museums, shops and restaurants in Chinatown. Japanese gardens in Portland and Delray Beach offer not just sightseeing, but programs such as tea ceremonies and bonsai. Target and focus. A meaningful vacation can be had in just a few days.”

Look for destinations where summer may not be high season. 

Poirot also recommends looking at destinations that don’t experience their peak season during the summer. “Mountain resorts known as big ski destinations offer some really fantastic options in the summer — everything from zip-lining to ropes courses — and usually at a lower rate than destinations where summer is busy season (like seasonal beaches). Also, look at areas where school may have already returned to session. For example, schools in Florida and the Southeast usually resume at the beginning of August, so deals in those areas may be found for those not starting back until Labor Day and who are willing to travel further to reach them, especially during the week.”

Extend your search beyond specific destinations. 

Poirot recommends, “Visit sites that do deal searches for you — coupon sites like RetailMeNot have discounts posted for hotels, car rentals, attractions and more. Flash sale sites like Groupon and LivingSocial each have travel discounts (Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes), as well as local discounts — you can purchase a resort deal first, and then sign up for alerts in the specific destination for savings on attractions, restaurants, etc. Family Vacation Critic also has a listing of hand-picked deals for families, with offerings like “kids stay free,” free resort credit, and discounted hotel rates.”

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