Resource Center

Saving Money on Last-Minute and Air-included Vacations

For bargains, check special offers and lower-cost options from Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), Backroads, B&R, VBT, Club ABC and others.

Inflation may be boosting airfares, but there are still bargains to be had on travel to many destinations in the U.S. and abroad.

Road Scholar, the organization formerly known as Elderhostel, has a slew of adventures awaiting vacationers with lower prices and/or no extra charge for a single supplement (one person in a room instead of two.) In some cases, airfare is included – a major issue these days.

The specials can be for last-minute travelers who wish to see Alaska and the Yukon or to cruise from Venice to Athens this spring. For those seeking 50 percent discounts, look at unusual cruising programs such as “The Old Masters: Art Treasures of Holland by River” and “Vietnam and Cambodia: Life Along the Mekong River by Barge.”

How does Road Scholar manage to offer bargains?

“Whenever our program providers find an opportunity we try to negotiate savings on our programs — often in off-peak times, or when cruise lines have excess inventory. Most of the free airfare offers have been extended by the cruise lines and as with any special savings opportunities that we come across, we pass the savings along to our participants,” says JoAnn Bell, Vice President of Programming for Road Scholar.

She adds: “Many of our participants are solo travelers — we understand that single supplements can often pose challenges for those traveling alone and are pleased to offer savings on that when we can.”

VBT, Backroads, Butterfield and Robinson, Club ABC Tour Deals

Many activity-oriented tour operators such as VBT, Backroads and Butterfield and Robinson, both of whom specialize in biking and walking trips, offer lower prices on some trips. Look for those that are slightly less luxurious than their typical ones: Backroads “casual inns,” which are less expensive than “premiere;” and B&R’s new bistro trips. At VBT, check out trips that include airfare.

Certain tour operators such as Club ABC often knock off hundreds of dollars from trips that are scheduled to depart within a month or two. Look for “Specials,” “online deals,” “last minute” and other headings at well-known tour websites such as Cheapertravel and travelzoo – there is often a bargain lurking. Even the most luxury-oriented travel companies may be offering special deals on upcoming trips that are not yet fully booked.

Final word: Be flexible, compare costs, ask about dropped single supplements, ask about including airfare and look for last-minute tours and you can save hundreds of dollars.