Fall is often an excellent time to plan a last-minute getaway. Not only is it off-peak travel season for many destinations around the world, but the weather can be wonderful, too. The Southern United States still features excellent temperatures, and the water along Florida’s beaches is still warm from the summer heat.
Fall is off-peak travel season in Europe as well, with lower prices and slimmer crowds. And don’t forget about the Caribbean; it may be hurricane season, but you can find inexpensive getaways this time of year even after you factor in the cost of much-needed travel insurance.
If you’re considering a last-minute fall trip, here are some tips that can help you save big:
Look for a Last-Minute Cruise Deal
Fall is an excellent time to get a really good deal on a Caribbean cruise especially. Kids are mostly in school during autumn, so there are fewer families planning trips. Hurricane season and all the uncertainty it brings also brings down demand, forcing cruise lines to price their cabins accordingly.
To find a last-minute cruise deal, check out VacationstoGo.com and their 90-day ticker. This feature lets you find deals on unsold cruise cabins within the next 90 days, and you can save up to 82% on some itineraries.
Also consider cruise lines that are affordable to begin with like MSC Cruises and Carnival. Both offer affordable fares, and MSC Cruises lets kids 11 and under cruise for free on many cruises in the Caribbean and Europe.
Once you find an affordable cruise, use flexible travel credit from a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard to pay. Both let you redeem miles to cover any travel purchases you want, so they’re perfect for cruising.
Book Cheap Flights through a Portal
If you have flexible rewards from a program like Chase Ultimate Rewards® or American Express Membership Rewards®, you can always look for inexpensive airfare through your program’s respective travel portal. This strategy works best if you’re willing to consider any airline and fly a variety of routes to different destinations. You can even compare prices ahead of time using Google Flights before you start your rewards program search.
Also keep in mind that some travel credit cards give you more value when you redeem your points for travel. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, you get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 bonus points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
Consider Airline Transfer Partners
Even if you are planning a last-minute trip, it’s possible you’ll be able to use airline miles. Just keep in mind that award availability can be limited, and that you may not be able to find the exact travel dates you want.
If you have points with a flexible program like Chase Ultimate Rewards®, however, you can consider available award flights on more than one airline before you transfer your points over. With Southwest Rapid Rewards®, a Chase transfer partner, you can book any available seat on a flight since there aren’t any blackout dates.
Compare Vacation Bundles
Vacation packages can also be a really good deal for last-minute travel, particularly in the Caribbean. Use websites like CheapCaribbean.com, Expedia.com, and Priceline.com to compare travel packages that include your hotel and your flights for one low price.
During fall, it can make a ton of sense to consider all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. These resorts include all your food, drinks, and entertainment for one low price, meaning they’re easy to budget and plan for. It’s also easy to find package deals that include an all-inclusive stay and airfare. You can find these resorts all over the Caribbean, but the most affordable options are usually in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica.
This is another area where flexible travel credit cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or any cash-back credit card can come in handy. Find a vacation package at an affordable price, and you can redeem your rewards to cover all or part of the trip.
Find a Deal On an Airbnb
Finally, don’t forget the value you can get from a rental condo or vacation home. Booking a condo can help you get more space for a price you can afford, and you can also score separate sleeping area for any kids you plan to bring along. If you’re every traveled with children in tow, you know just how important that extra space can be.
Many travel credit cards make it easy to cover Airbnb stays. This includes Chase Ultimate Rewards®, which even lets you book vacation rental homes direct through its travel portal.
Another bonus: A vacation rental with a kitchen will allow you to cook some of your meals “at home,” helping you save big on your food bill.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been putting off trip planning for a fall getaway, it’s possible any extra credit card rewards you have could be put to good use. This is especially true if you’re flexible about where you travel and when. If you are willing to consider more than a few options, you’ll be in the best position to find a good deal.
And if you don’t have any credit card rewards to spend, you can also consider signing up for a new rewards or travel credit card now. Many offer big signup bonuses you can earn when you meet a minimum spending requirement within a few months, meaning you may have time to rack up rewards for a fall trip if you start now.
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