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Frugal Friday: Last-Minute Travel Deals

iStock_000015800852SmallOn Wednesday, our guest poster talked about the art of a staycation, a great compromise if your budget doesn’t have room for a vacation this summer. But what if you’ve decided you can foot the bill for a weekend away? Maybe you spent less than you thought you would last month, suddenly realized you’ve amassed some credit card rewards, or saved all year for a home improvement project that came in under budget? (If you’re in that last category, you should play the lottery, too — you’re certainly the exception, not the rule, and I think luck just might be on your side right now.)

Then the question becomes, is it too late to plan an affordable getaway? The answer is no. Even better, deals on travel abound right now. Here’s what’s out there and how to save:

Try a cruise. Expedia has cruise savings from a range of port cities, including $379 for a seven-night Bahamas cruise leaving Baltimore and a four-night Western Caribbean cruise leaving Miami from only $179. Be sure to factor in airfare, of course, if you’re not near one of the port cities, and tipping, shore excursions and that nightly mojito. Cruise Critic has a great article with tips on cutting the hidden costs of cruising.

Get a hotel deal nearby. You don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re on vacation — so why not stay within a few hours driving distance to cut costs? Orbitz is running two discount codes for travel by September 2: SUMMERTRIP50 will get you $50 off qualifying hotel purchases of $350 or more, and ORBITZSAVE5 is good for 5% off qualifying hotel purchases — no minimum spend. If you’re more of the spontaneous type, try Hotel Tonight, which can land you big savings on hotels with availability, as the app name suggests, that very night.

Fly away. If you’re dead set on getting out of the state, Virgin America is offering special deals on flights to and from select cities if you book by July 22 and travel between August 17 and October 30. Check out the full rundown here: nonstop flights between Portland and San Francisco are as low as $69 each way, and even a cross country flight — from, say, New York to Las Vegas — starts at $179 each way.

Use Airbnb. A recent article on dealnews caught my eye: Staying in an Airbnb property may be up to 50% cheaper than renting a hotel room, saving you up to $65 a night in New York, $44 a night in Boston and $64 a night in San Francisco. And in many cases. Airbnb gives you rental of a full apartment — that kitchen will save you even more if you choose to eat at home a few nights during your stay.

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