At the end of June, my husband’s job delayed a few things and we suddenly realized he’d have a week off work. We took advantage of this newly-acquired free time by booking a last-minute trip to Hawaii. There are a ton of challenges to planning a trip in less than 24 hours! Here are a few things I learned that you, too, can use to plan a last-minute trip of your own.
1. Don’t overthink it.
If you start breaking down the impracticalities of a last-minute trip, you’ll talk yourself out of going. Double check your calendar to make sure you won’t be missing any important obligations. If everything can be easily rescheduled, then go for it! If you talk yourself out of it, a week later you’ll find yourself disappointed that you sat at home instead of going on an adventure.
2. Take your time, but book quickly.
We booked our flight less than 20 hours in advance. There were still flights left and we were even able to find seats together by doing a little extra searching. You may feel the need to jump on the first flight you find, but take your time to find the best deal. We were able to get direct flights from LAX to Kauai, we were able to sit together, and we didn’t totally break the bank.
3. Be willing to spend a little money.
Last-minute trips aren’t going to be cheap, but they also don’t have to cost a fortune. Take a little time to search for the best deals, but be willing to spend a little more for your comfort and convenience.
4. Check hotel availability before booking your flight.
We found plenty of rooms still available at many Kauai hotels, but we made sure to check before booking our flight. There may not be many options at your chosen destination, or they may be too expensive. You don’t want to end up at your destination for a week with nowhere to stay!
5. Use a packing list.
Last-minute packing can be tricky. I almost always forget something when I’m throwing things together at the last minute. For this trip, I looked up a few packing lists online to help me figure out what I might need. This one from Alex in Wanderland was helpful, as was this one over at Her Packing List.
You’ll want to take out the trash and clean out your fridge so you don’t come home to the rancid smell of rotting food. Put meats in your freezer and give away produce to a friend or neighbor. We learned this lesson the hard way.
7. Find someone to watch your pet (if you have one).
My cat has a gravity feeder, so all we needed to do was fill that up, empty her litter, and kindly ask my sister to check on her while we were gone. Some pets might be a little higher-maintenance, which can be tricky, but we are usually able to find someone who can step in. It helps if you can offer something in return, like payment or the produce that will otherwise go bad while you’re away.
8. Figure out how you’re going to get to & from the airport.
Our flight left early in the morning, and it was too last-minute to ask someone to drive us, so we arranged for parking at a nearby lot. Then we shuttled to the airport. Be sure to factor in all this to the time you’ll need to make it to your gate.
9. Be flexible.
You’re probably decently flexible if you’re even booking a last-minute trip. Remember that with spontaneous plans, you never know when things won’t work out. We hoped to do some diving on our stay in Hawaii, but we arrived just after the full moon and before an oncoming storm, so the tides were high through our entire trip. While we couldn’t dive, we did get a week full of warm weather and sunshine, so there were plenty of other fun and exciting things to do!
10. Get excited.
You’re going on vacation!