How to Book Your Last-Minute Summer Vacation Getaway

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Pssst. This just in. You don’t need to be a great planner to have a great summer vacation. Here are some of the best family vacation ideas to get your summer started right.

So June is just about rolling around, and you didn’t plan ahead for summer vacation. Don’t beat yourself up—life gets in the way, and last-minute travel can lead to spontaneous adventures or discovering places you didn’t expect to find yourself. The good news: there are still plenty of options for terrific last-minute getaways that will yield a memorable, relaxing vacation. Whether you’re interested in family vacation ideas, in search of an intimate couples’ getaway, or you’re ready for a solo adventure, we’ve got a handful of ideas that should fit the bill.

But before we get to the destinations, there are a few pro tips that will come in handy as you begin planning (especially if you’re really flexible about dates and destinations):

  1. Download apps like Adioso and Hotel Tonight for last-minute bookings.
  2. Think about locations that are in their off-season (like the Caribbean, Goa, Dubai, the American South, or Colombia, to name a few) in order to avoid summer crowds.
  3. If you don’t have kids going back to school, consider booking your summer vacation when school is starting (at the end of August or in early September). This tends to be a much quieter time for lots of popular summer destinations.

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If you want an all-inclusive, pina colada vacation…

There’s nothing easier than booking a vacation where you can iron out all the details in one fell swoop (especially if you’re traveling in a group or with little ones). All-inclusive vacations in warm destinations, like the Caribbean or coastal Mexico, can be packed in the winter months and during spring break, but generally ease up in the off-peak seasons (May through October). Just be wary of hurricane season in the Caribbean: avoid August if possible. You may encounter some rainy days in the early summer months, but you’ll still be able to sit back and relax on a white-sand beach with a frosty coconut cocktail in hand.

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If you want to take a road trip…

There’s nothing like packing the car full, making a ton of car-ride snacks, and hitting the road with the warm breeze in your hair. If you’re feeling spontaneous, consider road tripping down south (try New Orleans, Savannah, or Austin) during the summer months—because of the heat and humidity, you’ll encounter fewer crowds than in the spring and fall. There are also a host of luxury glamping companies that can arrange accommodations wherever you are, in case you'd like to get in touch with nature.

If you want to be a city slicker…

Maybe you’re interested in a European city vacation full of culture, great food, history, museums, art galleries, top-tier shopping, and all of that good stuff. Booking travel to cities can be tough in the summer months since many hotels are booked solid in the warmer months—no matter where in the world you’re looking to go. If you want to do it last-minute, consider picking a city (or a couple) and staying in a town on the outskirts, renting a car, and commuting in for day trips.

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If you want a New England beach vacation…

Lobster rolls, ice cream from local dairy farms, seafood on the grill, cool Atlantic breezes, rose-lined beaches—nothing beats a New England seaside vacation in the peak summer months. If you’re looking to head north and east for some salt and sand but want to avoid the crowds, try getting off the beaten path a bit and look to Maine, instead of Cape Cod and the islands, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Look into booking rentals or last-minute hotels in little towns like Georgetown, Lincolnville, or Machiasport. Or, swap the ocean for a crystal-clear lake and head to New Hampshire’s lake region.

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If you want to go hiking and camping (or glamping)…

Most people would assume that last-minute summer travel to the popular national parks out west (like Glacier and Yosemite) is a total no-go. However, many travelers don’t realize that most visitors tend to stick around the main roads and attractions, and far fewer people wander out to do backcountry camping—something available that requires a sense of adventure but offers much more peace and quiet.