Think the summer is already over, and vacations are a thing of the past?  Think again! 

ChicagoThere are still a bunch of travel bargins to be scored, especially if you don’t mind waiting til the last minute.  If you already have a relationship with a local pet sitting company (like us!) it will be no problem making sure that your pet is taken care of while you relax on the beach!

Check out this article on some of the latest travel bargins:

It’s July already, but late summer travel deals haven’t wilted in the heat.

Whether it’s Ireland or Argentina for a cool getaway, Southern California, Florida, Costa Rica or Mexico for hot bargains, or New York and Chicago for midsummer urban interludes, the carpet is out for price-conscious travelers, travel industry executives said.

“Different destinations present both opportunities and challenges that depend on the time of the year,” said Angela Lyda, senior editor of Travel Ticker ( ), a travel website. “For example, some off-seasons still have great weather, and some peak seasons still have amazing prices.”

Travel Ticker’s “Where to Go Now & How Guide” highlights the best mid-to-late-summer travel destinations.

Three destinations in Travel Ticker’s summer 2011 guide are:

  • Chicago: big value at peak season

“From the summer festivals, Wrigley Field bleacher seats, Millennium Park concerts, walking along Lake Michigan, to outdoor shopping and dining – it’s no secret that Chicago is enjoyed to its fullest in the peak summer months,” Travel Ticker’s guide says, “And with Chicago surrounded by numerous unique neighborhoods, there is plenty of this city to go around for each visitor.”

Bargains this time of year in Chicago range from some of the lower priced air fares of major cities to hotel rates that are only $20 to $30 higher than off-season. The Amalfi Hotel Chicago, near the Magnificent Mile, starts at $139 on select dates until Sept. 9, with a complimentary room upgrade, breakfast, cocktails and Wi-Fi, Travel Ticker says.

  • Peru: off-season means exotic savings

“Our summer is Peru’s winter and off-season, which equates to great travel values,” TT’s guide says. “The weather averages 65 Guatemaladegrees in Peru during the winter months but is still pleasantly tropical in many places. There are also fewer tourists, so you can experience local culture to its fullest in spots like Machu Picchu, Lima and the Inca ruins.”

A 10-day Peru excursion ( ) includes a flight to Lima, hotels in four cities,
transfers, breakfast and tours (including Machu Picchu) starts at $1,699 through Dec. 30.

  • Guatemala: adventurous and budget-friendly

“The summer months translate to the rainy season in Guatemala, but the rain is reliably tropical and light,” TT’s guide says. “This makes for the perfect time to explore Guatemala City and Chichicastenango (try saying that three times fast), tour Antigua, the ancient church of Santo Tomas or go on an excursion to the picturesque Lake Atitlan.”

A round-trip flight to Guatemala, four nights in two cities, transfers, breakfast and tours starts at $599 ( ) through Dec. 27.

Other deals

This week, Travel Ticker features a seven-night air-hotel-rental car-and-breakfast package to Costa Rica, which has gorgeous beaches on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, spectacular national parks and San Jose, its culturally rich capital, which starts at $599.

“You’ll stay three nights at the Arenal Paraiso Resort, known for its hot springs and views of Arenal Volcano, three nights at the beachfront all-inclusive Villas Sol and one night at the Best Western Irazu Hotel & Casino near downtown San Jose,” TT says.

The package includes round-trip air fare from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Virgin Vacations ( ) is offering an eight-day fly-and-drive vacation in Ireland from $899. The package includes round-trip flight from New York to Dublin, six nights in your choice of hotels (two nights each in Dublin, Killarney and Galway), seven-day car rental and daily breakfast.

Travelocity ( ) offers air/hotel packages to Orlando and Kissimmee, Fla., from $293 to $897 per person through October. It also has an air/hotel package to Anaheim, Calif., home of Disneyland, for $1,025 per person through October.

Gulf CoastLast Minute Travel ( ) invites Orlando visitors to rent a four-bedroom, three-bath vacation home with a swimming pool in the gated Solana Resort community in Orlando, 15 minutes from Disney World, for $140.74 per night. The completely furnished home includes cable TV, DVD, CD stereo system, flat-screen TVs in each bedroom and a laundry room with washer and dryer.

“The Space Coast and Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex are only about an hour away and the fabulous beaches of the Gulf Coast just over an hour,” the travel website says.

Greg Spears, CEO of Travel Leaders/Spears Travel in Tulsa, said summer is the low season and bargains abound in Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

“With summer travel, it’s the busy travel season for flights,” Spears said. “Book early in the day so if your flight is canceled, you have some protection to get a flight later in the day.

“Be flexible is the key. If you can slide your trip from one side or the other or another week” travelers have the best chance of finding bargains, Spears said.

Credit: D.R. Stewart at Tulsa World