Last minute travel can be some of the most stressful traveling experiences ever. Not saying that traveling, in general, isn't stressful enough. Last minute traveling usually happens due to lack of planning or it is just a spontaneous reaction. Whatever the case, your experience trying to travel last minute will likely be a stressful mess. However, there are many ways you can get around it being a disaster of a trip.
Another thing that you should consider when taking last minute trips is the price. There are ways to get around paying a ton of money for deciding to be spontaneous, but often these ways aren't obvious. There are many avenues that help with planning a last minute trip whether it is apps that help you save time and money or tips like booking with a budget airline there are many ways to make your last minute trip a successful one. So the next time you are feeling spontaneous or completely forget to buy that plane ticket to that wedding you were invited to (but really don't want to go), you should remember and take some of these tips into consideration.
Chances are if you are booking a vacation then you won't have many options when it comes to choice of where you are going. This is why you should be open to whatever place you can get when booking last minute. This is usually okay since you probably haven't been planning a vacation for months so you don't have your heart set on a place. The best part about this is you can choose a place based on last minute deals like airlines trying to fill seats on an airplane.
The number one thing to do when booking flights are to look for better deals. Most people instinctively do this, but if you are one of those people who buy the first ticket they see you may want to take a moment and consider how much you can save especially when you are booking last minute. Typically less popular flights like late night flights or flights happening in the early morning will be discounted. Also, choosing the day of the week to book can heavily affect the price. If you book on Sundays and Tuesdays you will find the lowest prices.
Looking for a budget airline can seem a bit strange but in this case, it can save you a lot of money. Budget airlines typically don't give guests a lot of amenities like free food or drinks or WiFi in the plane. However, if you are taking a last minute flight you probably aren't concerned about things like this. Typical flights can be a stressful event and not having your free soda on a flight won't change this too much. When you get to your destination it will be worth it. Plus, budget airlines typically have more seats available even last minute.
While you may not have that much time since you are traveling last minute research is still an important part of traveling. Researching flights is important, but you can't forget to research other things like hotels, car rentals, and more for when you arrive at your destination. Websites like Skyscanner and Kayak will help you find great deals and will do a lot of the research for you and quickly. With all of this research, you will be ready to find the best deal for your destination!
If you are planning a future trip this tip also helps with that. If you sign up for different newsletters from the airline you typically travel with they will send tons of deals to your email. However, if you are booking last minute it can still help to have information coming to your phone from your airline. The flight alerts with most airline apps will inform you of deals that are last minute and will even inform you of any changes that may happen with your flight that you have already booked. Stay up to date with delays and other important information to do with your flight.
Travel agents may seem like a thing of the past but that doesn't mean that they aren't there when you need them most. Travel agents know their stuff and if there is anyone who can help you with a last minute vacation it's going to be a travel agent. They know the do's and donts of booking a vacation and they even have stellar connections that will get you deals you would have never been able to get otherwise. There are several ways to get in touch with a travel agent like through their hotline or by visiting a travel agency.
Chances are your ad browser is tracking your every movement, especially when it comes to booking flights. You may not realize it, but certain airline websites will track your information and send ads for flights that are much more expensive than what you could find if you searched it yourself. The best way to avoid this is to search for flights and other things like hotels rooms in private/incognito mode. This mode is available in most browsers like Google Chrome and it stops websites from reading your data to benefit them. You can even go incognito on your phone!
Having a plan can be the difference from a great vacation to a ruined one. Even though you are short on time you should have a concrete plan in place before you start doing anything else. For example, if you book a flight without considering hotel accommodations you could be spending way more for a hotel or they may be completely booked. This is especially true during peak traveling season, so you especially want to make sure you're careful around them. Having a concrete plan will get the gears going for the whole vacation so it is important to consider.
The main thing to do when booking a flight besides research and strategizing is letting the destination determine when and who you book with. Certain destinations can be cheaper during the week while others are cheaper during the weekend. Consider all your options before you immediately just book somewhere. For example, if you are traveling to a tourist city like Miami you will want to avoid weekends when tourists usually flock there. Opposite for New York where you will want to book the weekend when people are off work and not out and about.
While it is very important to have a plan, you can't get too stressed when everything doesn't go to that plan. As long as you make it to your destination that is all that really needs to go to plan. If you can't get the hotel room you wanted or something was booked that wasn't before don't stress. Instead, try to find a workaround. Chances are if you are the last minute traveler then you are open to being spontaneous. Plus, this can be much more fun for people who don't particularly like plans in the first place and would rather go with the flow.
There is a secret strategy when booking a vacation called the 14-day rule. This is a two-week window where most airlines, hotels, and cruise operators aren't fully booked and offer amazing deals. If you wait for this magic time two weeks ahead of a destination, then you could save so much money. As long as you aren't a literal last minute booker then you will probably be able to take advantage of this strategy. If you do get the chance to take advantage of the 14-day rule then you should definitely do it as it will save you tons.
Traveling last minute during peak season isn't a good idea. There is already so much demand to travel during peak seasons that you likely won't be able to book a vacation or you will be spending way more than you normally would. This includes everything from airline tickets to hotel prices. However, if you do the opposite and travel during the off-season then you will likely find some great deals. Airlines and hotels are looking for people to fill their seats and their rooms so this is a great way to save some money.
If you are looking to get everything done and booked in one go then you should look into packaged deals. Often airlines and hotels will cooperate to bring you a package deal that will guarantee flight and a hotel room for when you get to your destination. This can also save you a decent bit of money. However, if you want to take a step deeper in this hack you can usually get a package deal during peak season just for the flight and not even use the hotel room and still save money than a normal flight would cost.
If you are planning a vacation on the same continent as you live on then you can always look into other means of travel. Buses and trains usually cost way less and are usually better to travel with when booking last minute. Of course, you are sacrificing comfort and sometimes luxury when traveling this way but if you are looking for a deal then it can be a great option. You should also plan around the fact that using buses or trains will sometimes take two to three times as long as a flight depending on where you are vacationing.
Again, you are going to have to sacrifice convenience here in order to save some money. However, this tip is definitely worth it if you are traveling last minute. Booking a last minute nonstop flight is almost impossible, and if it is possible you be paying way more than it is worth. Booking a two or three connection flight can save you hundreds especially if you are booking last minute. Plus, layovers aren't always a bad thing as you get a chance to get off the plane, eat and stretch your legs a bit.
This may seem like a foreign concept for most people when booking an Airbnb or other rental services that isn't a hotel, but you can actually bargain with your host. This is specifically useful when booking an Airbnb as they usually aren't dead set on the price they have on the website. This also has a lot to do with the time of year it is and if they have a lot of space left or not. If they are trying to fill space in their place then that is your best chance at getting a better deal.
Every year there will be a new hot spot to travel to. This is anywhere that a lot of people are saying is a great place to travel. Through things like social media, these places start to garner a lot of attention and it will increase the number of people traveling to these destinations tenfold. Chances are you aren't dead set on a location if you are traveling last minute, so you have to option of choosing a lesser-known destination. This will help you save money and you will likely have a better time in the end with fewer crowds.
If you are the last minute traveler a great way to try and save on a hotel room is to call the hotel directly instead of booking a room online. This is a good way of trying to get deals as the people working in the hotel know most of the deals and how to accommodate you the best. This also increases your chances of getting upgraded as there is a voice with the name instead of just the name online. You can also find specific things about the hotel, like check out times and other things that wouldn't be listed on the website and that is different at each hotel.
While we have shown you many ways to save when you travel, there are other ways to save when you arrive at your destination. Websites like Groupon are great for getting deals on smaller things on your vacation like dining and other entertainment. These coupons can be date specific but you may get lucky and be able to save a lot. Other apps like Honey help you save money in the browser. If you are ordering food in the browser it will surf through the internet and find you a bunch of different coupon codes to use and try out.
When you arrive at a destination it is best to try and be as flexible as possible. If you are traveling last minute this is a very important thing to remember. Chances are you probably didn't have a very concrete plan, to begin with so it won't be that hard to just go with the flow. It is very important to try and keep an open mind and be ready for whatever may happen. With lack of planning, things can arise that you never even though of but that is okay. After all, you are traveling to have fun so don't stress the little things.
Sometimes when booking airline tickets you will want to compare the round trip ticket prices to the one-way ticket prices. Sometimes one-way tickets coming and going will be much cheaper than the round trip prices. This is especially true if you are traveling last minute. However, there can be some risk if you do decide to buy two one way tickets as the second ticket you buy can be much more than the first one. While this method is a gamble it could be worth it if the round-trip ticket prices are too outrageous.
As mentioned before social media is a big influence on the travel world. This is especially true when it comes to seeking out deals. Companies are constantly trying to up their social media attention and sending out deals is one way of accomplishing that. If you follow airlines and hotels on Twitter and Facebook then you will have a great chance of getting a stellar deal. Not only that but you can even search on these websites for flight deals and many options will come up for travel deals.
Speaking of social media, let's take a look at other apps on your phone. Travel specific apps can help make your traveling experience a million times better. Apps like Google Translate can help you learn a place's language quickly and communicate with locals. City Mapper is an app that allows you to see the public transportation options in certain places which is what many people will use when vacationing especially if you flew. Then you have apps like Uber or Lyft that will allow you to have your own personal cab to take you wherever you need. These are just a few great apps that will help you on your travels.
Speaking of apps, there are even more you should look out for when traveling. Dining apps are great for when you arrive and are looking for great places to eat. OpenTable is an app that will allow you to make reservations at certain restaurants and it will fill you in about everything you need to know about the restaurant. Other apps like GrubHub and Uber Eats are used for when you don't want to leave the hotel room as they are used for delivery services.
Asking a friend for advice sounds like common sense but sometimes friends know best. When it comes to traveling last minute it isn't a bad idea to ask for advice. No matter if its advice about booking flights or advice about smaller things like what to pack for a last minute trip you should always get someone else's perspective. This is especially true if you are traveling with a group of friends. Get their perspective on the trip and mimic their routines to get the best outcome.