7 last-minute ways to save money on your next vacation

Sometimes you just need to get away, but a vacation can often be a big strain on your budget. 

In fact, about 74 percent of Americans have gone into debt while planning a vacation.

RELATED: 5 surefire ways to get to retire earlier than you thought

The following seven tips will help you save money and avoid facing debt when you get back from your trip:

Look for a price-drop guarantee

If you've made a reservation for a flight or hotel online, it can be frustrating to later watch its price drop. But some sites, including Orbitz, offer a price guarantee. Some will refund the difference in vouchers for future travel, but Orbitz will issue a cash return.

Check for deals on attractions

Sites like Groupon and CityPASS can help cut the price of popular attractions if you're visiting a major city. Groupon offers deals on individual attractions (or even trips) and CityPass groups tickets for several iconic spots in the same city into one deal.

Ask for better rates

When you book a hotel, Consumer Reports recommends bargaining for better rates. Few people actually do this, but for those that give it a try, 78 percent of those surveyed scored a lower rate or an upgrade. Give the hotel a call before you leave or when you're on the road, since customers had better luck by phone than in person.

Be flexible

If you're flying, Investopedia says that being flexible can help you save money. The cheapest travel day is Wednesday, and you'll also save by avoiding weekend travel. Try to leave late at night or early in the morning, since these less desirable flight times often result in savings.

Get a Priceline deal

Sites like Priceline, which lets you name a price you're willing to pay, sometimes let you scoop up a great deal at the last minute, according to Investopedia. You may not be able to learn the name of your hotel or rental car agency before you bid, but you can set some parameters. Forbes suggests additional ways to save with Priceline, including last-minute deals that let you know the name of your hotel or car rental agency before you pay.

Get discounted meals

The cost of meals can add up quickly when you're on vacation, but a few online checks can save you some money, according to The Penny Hoarder. The site recommends Restaurant.com, which sells deeply discounted gift certificates in many locations. And when you're on the road, check Yelp, where you can search for restaurants that offer deals when you "check in" using the app.

Check for last-minute cruise discounts

If you'd like to take a cruise for your next vacation, some cruise lines offer discounts rather than leave rooms empty, according to USA Today. Check sites like Cruise Critic, which separates last-minute bargains into their own category. Be make sure to take into account any airfare costs and whether you'll need a passport (and will have time to get one).

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Audit finds red flags in Hartsfield-Jackson contracting
Audit finds red flags in Hartsfield-Jackson contracting

A city audit found red flags in contracting for construction projects in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s $6 billion expansion, indicating an “elevated risk of fraud.” The audit found errors in the contracting process — including errors that may have affected the outcome of a contract award — as well...
Meet Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African-American woman to run a $1 billion business
Meet Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African-American woman to run a $1 billion business

Janice Bryant Howroyd, 65, is founder and chief executive of Act 1 Group, an employment agency that also provides consulting and business services, including background checks and screening. She’s the first African-American woman to operate a company that generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, according to Black Enterprise Magazine...
Winn-Dixie, once iconic grocery chain, takes another hit
Winn-Dixie, once iconic grocery chain, takes another hit

The supermarket chain that operates Winn-Dixie and Bi-Lo stores could close as many as 200 stores as part of a possible bankruptcy plan, according to news first reported by Bloomberg. Reuters reported that sources familiar with the potential bankruptcy filing said the company would close at least 100 stores. Winn-Dixie operates close to 500 stores...
Atlanta homebuilder sells out: Deeper pockets may mean faster growth
Atlanta homebuilder sells out: Deeper pockets may mean faster growth

An aggressive Atlanta homebuilder is selling itself to a Japanese-based company, seeing deeper pockets as the only sure way to grow. FrontDoor Communities, is being acquired by Virginia-based Stanley Martin Communities in a deal whose financial details have not been announced. But Stanley Martin itself sold a controlling interest a year ago to Daiwa...
Atlanta home prices up nearly 10 percent in a year
Atlanta home prices up nearly 10 percent in a year

Metro Atlanta home prices jumped 9.9 percent on average during the past year, while the supply of homes for sale crashed to what might be record lows, according to the latest report from the Atlanta Realtors Association. The median sales price last month was $245,000, up from $223,000 in January of last year, the monthly report said. Part of what&rsquo...
More Stories