WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal vacation ideas on WRAL-FM

Posted July 11, 2011 1:48 a.m. EDT
Updated July 11, 2011 1:21 p.m. EDT

If you have waited a little too long to save up for that weeklong summer vacation in Eurpoe, don’t despair, there are still plenty of other last minute vacation options to give you a break from the everyday without breaking your budget.

Stay close to home with daycations. One day trips to nearby towns can offer just enough of a getaway if you have very little time. One of our Smart Shopper blog readers wrote that she uses the "Our State" magazine articles and once a month they pick a place from the articles and take a day trip there. She pointed out that they have found great places to eat, small town charm and things they would never have known about that are all just a short drive away.

Daily Deal sites: I have mentioned them to you before and using daily deal sites like groupon.com and livingsocial.com are excellent ways to get ½ price discounts to attractions in cities where you are planning to vacation. Both of these sites have deals posted for many cities in North Carolina as well as cities in nearby South Carolina and Virginia. You’ll find fabulous discounts on everything from restaurants to mini-golf to theater productions and more! Now is the time to start watching the deals for your vacation destination so you have some fun ½ price activities to do when you get there.

Use a discount travel site for airfare and hotel needs. Kiplinger.com has a great article with a list of 24 best travel sites to save you money. You can find the link on my blog at wral.com. They profile well-known travel sites like kayak.com and Priceline.com but they also include information about some really interesting sites like AirfareWatchdog.com that is great for travelers who have a lot of flexibility and can take off at a moments notice when a fabulous deal becomes available. For instance, there was a $148 round trip rate to Boston on the site last night.

Offer to pay less: If a hotel has available rooms the night before you are thin king of taking a last minute trip, they may be willing to discount them deeply to get that room filled. Call the hotel directly to negotiate a better rate. Some hotels allow you to name your own price and the hotel decides if it will accept it. The Create Your Rate promo at Ocean Isle Inn got us to try the hotel at a big discount last year and we had a great time! Click HERE for more information.

Specific last minute deals:

Save up to 25% off regular admission price at Biltmore right now when you purchase tickets online at least 7 days in advance. Click HERE for more details.

Save up to 20% on a 3 night stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord with promo code MOREFUN, which is also mentioned on their website in the deals section. Click HERE for more details.

Please feel free to share any other travel deals or suggestions you have!