Last Minute TravelSummer is fading in to the sunset, fast. The TV is filled with back to school commercials and children in the south have already packed up their shiny new pencil boxes and boarded the bus.

Not ready to let summer go?

Neither are we.

If you’ve got a few weeks left or are busy scheming a Labor Day Weekend getaway, Traveling Mom experts have some great advice on planning that last minute getaway. You can also join us for tonight’s Twitter Party, we’ll be chatting all about Last Minute Travel.

Desiree Miller from Stress Free Baby (don’t you wish there was such a thing) has made an art of last minute travel:

Call me crazy, but I think my family has more fun on the trips that are planned last minute than those we think about a year in advance. To me, last minute gives us permission to drop expectations of perfection and just roll with it.
That’s my advice, too: let your children know that when it comes to travel, especially last minute travel, it’s all about attitude. Sure, some things they may want to do could be fully booked, but there will be other adventures they can discover.  Odds are if you plan for something at the last minute, you’re going to miss out on the most popular excursions, but sometimes it’s the thing everyone else is NOT doing that is most memorable.
If you, as the parent, are flexible and treat it like a cool scavenger hunt for fun, the kids will, too.
Last minute travel

Teronya Holmes, our very own Christian Traveling Mom, lives in the south and has kids already headed back to school, but that doesn’t stop her from cooking up a little last minute travel.

With the kids going back to school so early in August these days, I feel like we have to squeeze every last drop of sunshine out of summer vacation. So, while everyone else is out shopping for school supplies, I’m planning a last-minute summer adventure with my family.

We live in the mountains, so to make it feel like we’re really getting away, I chose a beach location, Charleston, South Carolina. It’s only a six-hour drive for us, so we can leave early on Friday morning, be on the beach by noon, and stay until late afternoon on Sunday, giving us a full weekend of fun.

Making it even more convenient and affordable is the fact that we have relatives who live there and offer us very affordable accommodations (free!). The bonus here is special time with family members – a mini-family reunion. While there, we’ll also enjoy a visit to our favorite Charleston beach, Folly Beach, where we’ll catch some waves and walk out on the long pier to see if the fisherman are catching any sharks.

We’ll also enjoy some sight-seeing on Saturday, hitting all of our favorite highlights – shopping in the Slave Market, a walk along the Battery, a drive out to Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms, and possibly a horse and carriage tour of downtown Charleston in the late evening.

Sunday we plan to take the boys for their first tour of Fort Sumter, which involves a boat cruise and takes less than three hours, total. Afterwards, lunch and a final stop at the beach, toes in the sand, before we head home. Last-minute getaways may sound exhausting, but actually they can be truly rejuvenating – providing that one last summer adventure of fun and “edutainment” for the whole family before we settle into the dreary school routine again!

Last Minute TravelSome great advice from Lara DiPaola, Scenic Route TravelingMom: skip traveling and be a tourist in your own backyard!

Did you want to travel this summer, but time got the better of you? Fear not, there IS still time. Try being a tourist in your home town, or just one town over. Think like a visitor, what highlights should you hit, where are the can’t miss hot spots? Stay in a local boutique hotel to round out the tourist feel. Travel after all, starts right outside your door!

The Pocket Ranger app is a great new tool that is free to download, it can help you find a park, a place to camp, or just lots of fun activities right around the corner from you.

Traveling Dad Paul Eisenberg says last minute doesn’t have to mean extra expensive.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to pay through the nose for last-minute hotel arrangements, especially towards the end of summer, as hotels have last-minute needs to fill rooms, too.

You can get some ordinarily pricey rates for a song if you comparison shop among the online travel agencies and hotel chain websites and simply refuse to settle for anything close to the rack rate. One often-untapped bargain option for leisure travelers are business and convention-oriented hotels, many of which will be slower-than-usual towards the end of summer and will likely have plenty of rooms available at lower rates.

Last Minute TravelKaren Heffren of DesertChicaRamblings offers up this advice:

I think the most important tip for last minute trips is to have no expectations. Pick a trip based on the best deal you can find or a location that works best with your timeline. If it happens to be a bucket list location, awesome, if not just enjoy the trip. Without long term planning, you shouldn’t worry about detailed itineraries or schedule every minute of the trip. Just go and have fun, and be thankful you aren’t home doing laundry.

Tell us: What great tips and tricks do you have for planning last minute travel?