Top tips to extend your final day of vacation

Make the most of your last day of vacation — Photo courtesy of FG Trade / Getty Images

The first day of your vacation can be a bit hectic. Most likely, you’re catching a flight or driving to your destination, checking into your hotel or vacation rental, unpacking your belongings and even making a grocery run. Once you get into your vacation swing, you usually realize it goes too fast. To stretch your time away a bit further, here are some expert tips to make the most of your last day of vacation.

Request a late checkout

Sometimes it’s possible just by asking, but realize that whether you can snag a free late checkout may depend on the time of year, whether it’s a weekend and other factors, such as if there’s an event or conference at the hotel. Being loyal to a hospitality brand can work in your favor.

“Many hotel elite status programs give late checkout to members, but the times can vary based on your tier of elite status,” says Sally French, travel expert at NerdWallet. For example, Marriott is especially generous to Platinum Elite members, offering guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkouts at most properties, says French.

If you don’t have elite status, some hotels will let you pay for a late checkout, so consider paying a nominal charge to hold onto your room key for a few more hours. That way, if you want to take the kids for a swim after lunch or take a shower after a midday activity, the room is still yours.

Book a late flight home

A late flight home can give you another full day to enjoy the destination, and most hotels are happy to store your luggage while you enjoy the hotel’s amenities.

If you are returning from a cruise, enjoy your last day. Don’t rush to the airport.

“When I do a cruise, I like to book a later flight home and spend the last day on a land tour,” says Cindy Richards of “It’s a laid-back way to see the area around the port. As an added bonus, the tour company will pick you up from the port and drop you at the airport at the end of the tour. That saves the money and hassle of booking a ride from the ship to the airport.”

Take the long way home

If you’re on a road trip, you have the freedom to stop at a venue, restaurant or attraction on your way home and add one more experience to your vacation. Take back roads and spend the last hours of your trip enjoying a new place.

“I’m a big fan of staying off the interstate, especially on the ride home,” says Richards, noting that a traffic jam can be a big downer, so take the back roads instead. “You can relax, take your time and enjoy the trip. Stop in the small towns along the way, explore antique shops, eat at the local restaurants, drive around the town square. I find that to be a much more chill way to end a vacation.”

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