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The ins and outs of booking your last-minute summer vacation

How to do it yourself, or with an agent
Posted at 8:27 AM, Jun 13, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It’s not too late to book your summer vacation and travel agents say there are last-minute deals on flights out there.

This year, Google Flights has cemented its position in the market of online booking alongside Expedia and Priceline. Travel experts say Google’s website is faster, helps find last-minute deals, and easily shows prices on different days in a “flexible dates calendar.” 

It does not always default to show you the cheapest flight first, so travel agents say you should scroll through all the options before booking. The website does not provide information from Southwest Airlines, one of the country’s most popular. 

But not everyone wants to spend hours online searching for the best option, so they turn to travel agents. 

The fact that agents do the research for you tops the list of reasons to team up with one. Other reasons include That they often have experience traveling to the destination you’re interested in, they know all the fine print, and are there to handle situations if something goes wrong like a flight cancellation.

On the flip side, the internet is full of deals. If you don’t mind spending time filtering through all the options, you may be able to find a better bargain yourself.

Tasha Chisem, who visited Kansas City from Omaha, said she’s booked trips both ways. Her advice is to do your homework before committing.

“My suggestion would be to shop around, ask around. Usually, there are friends or family who have gone to those places already. If you have friends or families who work for the hotels, you get a discount,” Chisem pointed out. 

Whether you buy your flight tickets online or with a travel agent, the consensus is to buy your hotel at the same place. Mark Ebbitts of Shelton Travel Service in Kansas City said bundling is the key to saving money. 

“A lot of times Expedia or even Shelton Travel, we're going to pay the same price for the air that you could buy direct. But when you bundle it with a hotel, that's where the savings come in to play,” Ebbitts said. 

Ebbitts added the optimal time to book a trip is three to four months in advance, but he still books plenty of trips at the last minute. 

Popular destinations this year include Europe. Icelandair now has a non-stop flight from Kansas City to Iceland. From there, travelers can easily connect to continental Europe.

Cheap destinations from Kansas City this summer include the Florida Panhandle and Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Pacific Northwest is popular for people seeking a cooler vacation spot.