The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games is only a few hours away and that means London is bracing itself for an influx of millions of visitors. Or so you would think. If you're someone who has always dreamed of traveling to London or seeing the Olympics in person, you might be surprised to learn it's not too late to book a last minute getaway to London -- and at an ultra-affordable rate.
Many people mistakenly believe it's far too crowded and far too expensive to travel to a country hosting the Olympics. In fact, that common misconception is entirely wrong. Historically, every four years, the host city of the Olympic Games has the high expectation that the entire world will come into the city to see the greatest athletes compete in the most prestigious sporting events. In reality, it never happens.
Months in advance of the games, airfare prices are set high, hotels reserve countless rooms at the highest possible prices and cruise ships are sometimes even docked at nearby ports to help accommodate the expected influx of visitors. And the result? Half-booked hotels, empty seats on flights, and a city left wondering what went wrong.
And this year's 2012 London Olympic Games won't be any different. Flights to London are still available because normal traffic to London virtually stops during the time of the games. Travelers not interested in the Olympics want to avoid the city at all costs. Over the next two weeks, flights will still be available at an extraordinarily incredible price. For example, I found several flights from New York to London starting at just $923, including fuel surcharges, taxes and fees. This is an unbelievable deal, considering you're traveling in the middle of summer to a hot tourist destination.
Hotels are offering the same great discounts. Centrally located, four-star hotels in tourist-friendly areas are still available and priced well below $200 per night, including taxes and fees. During peak season, without the Olympic Games, these rooms would cost more than $300 per night.
Once you're in London, you don't have to worry about outrageous expenses either. There are tons of free resources available for tourists -- and even more so during a large event like the Olympics. Tourist-friendly cities such as London provide free maps, tour books, city passes and more. You just have to look for them. Plus, tickets are still available for some of the Olympic Games. If you don't have a preference for which sport to watch, there are free and less-crowded events that take place throughout the games. For example, games that don't get a lot of press coverage will be less crowded while still giving the feel of being at the Olympics.
So, as you settle in to watch the spectacular opening of the 2012 Summer Games and feel a twinge of remorse that you didn't hop on a flight to London, you can still make it. The price is right and you'll be amazed at just how affordable this last-minute getaway can be.