Do your research and be flexible and you can score a fabulous last-minute vacation.
Do your research and be flexible and you can score a fabulous last-minute vacation. Alan Powdrill/Getty Images

If you are willing to, well OK, fly by the seat of your pants, there are plenty of great last-minute vacation bargains to be had. Below are a few strategies to help you get the best deal on a fabulous vacation booked at the last minute.

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1. Being Flexible is Better

Last-minute deals arise when airlines and hotels need to fill seats and rooms. Period. So it's much easier to find bargains if you have no particular travel agenda. This might mean traveling on weekdays, flying very early or late in the day or on indirect flights, visiting a destination in the off-season, or even heading to a city that you never before considered.

2. Start With Last-Minute Vacation Websites

One-stop sites like LastMinute.com can save you up to 70 percent on airfare, hotel rooms, activities and even entire packages. Travelzoo.com carefully screens thousands of website and e-newsletter deals. VacationstoGo.com is great for last-minute cruises.

Unfortunately, many offers won't matter to you. A deal for Boston to Ireland won't help if you're trying to get to Cancun. In such cases, check sites like AirfareWatchdog.com, which analyzes seasons and trends for the best prices. Just plug in departure and arrival airports for a list of cheap flights. Fly.com, a TravelZoo sister site, lets you do the same — by date and for flights, hotels and rental cars.