Save big on last-minute summer travel

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If you're dreaming of a summer vacation, but did not plan in advance, there's still time to score a deal.

With these tips from a travel blogger, you don't have to get sucked into paying high last-minute prices on a getaway.

"With the few weeks of summer left, prices can be kind of high at different hotels and airlines if you want to squeeze in a last-minute trip. But a lot of people have points or miles on credit cards your may be using that they can put to great use during the summer to avoid paying those high prices," said Summer Hull with

Hull has mastered the art of thrifty travel. Her best advice is to let reward availability be your guide.

"What that means is, say you want to go to the beach, search a few different beaches. Don't lock into one because maybe you won't be able to lock into that reward flight to that one beach. But if you search a couple different ones, you will probably have better luck, so be flexible," Hull said.

When it comes to getting the best deals on hotels, sometimes it pays to pick up the phone.

"Even in this Internet age, there is still a lot of travel deals that are not online. Some of your options are only bookable over the phone. So never assume something is not there just because it isn't on the website. It's worth a call if you really want to get that vacation in the last week of summer," Hull said.

While it may be easy to search travel websites to get an overall view of airfare prices, Hull says it's not always how to get the best bang for your buck. She suggests going to the source.

"Start with big websites to do your general research. When you see what you want, drill down and spend a little bit more time and you may be able to find a way to save some more dollars," Hull said.

Another way to save is to travel on weekdays since the kids are out of school and try to avoid weekends.

"You're going to have lower flight prices and hotel prices, especially at the popular pleasure locations," Hull said.

If you are traveling with a group, some of the best deals can be found with condo or house rentals. Then, you can divide the cost multiple ways, while still having the luxuries of home.

"Look to sites like vacation rental by owner or similar, and if we are talking last-minute, sometimes these owners have a week they haven't filled yet. They might be willing to negotiate and drop the price," Hull said. "So don't be afraid to try some negotiation skills on a last-minute rental to really save some cash!"

For things to do once you get to your destination, make sure you do your research. Check the local event calendars online for free entertainment and activity guides. Also, try checking Groupon and Livingsocial for the city you'll be visiting. There you can often find deals on fun, family-friendly activities.
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