Some trips are highly anticipated, planned down to the smallest detail, and booked months in advance. Others (and often my favorites) are spontaneous urges to be somewhere else. If you are feeling the need to escape ASAP, planning a last-minute trip might be easier than you think. To avoid spending a fortune, try these tips.
Book on Tuesday
Most experienced travelers know that booking on Tuesday can save you some money. Many airlines release low airfares on Sunday or Monday. On Tuesday, there is typically a great selection of discounted flights. This guy takes it one step further by suggesting you book Wednesday at 1 a.m. – and pick up the phone to call someone, rather than just purchasing your flight online.
Sacrifice Some Sleep
Red-eye flights are flights that depart late at night or very early in the morning. Flights at ungodly hours are often cheaper because, well, few people want to take them. If you are willing to sacrifice some sleep, or you are a pro at sleeping on a plane, take the red-eye option. Your wallet will thank you. Bonus: no crowed airport!
Use Your Resouces
Websites like Expedia and Kayak are widely known, but there are some other online tools to keep in your arsenal for your last minute flight search. SkyScanner enables you to select a departure airport and find cheap destinations, and vice versa. This is extremely useful if you live near multiple airports, or if your heart isn’t set on one particular destination. When searching for a low-cost flight, it can be easy to focus on the airfare cost alone. With many airlines adding hefty fees for just about any convenience, choosing an airline that won’t rack up your ticket price is another way to save money on travel. TravelNerd lets you compare fees across major airlines so that you can factor in how much packing those 12 pairs of shoes might cost you.
If you’d rather just hop in your car or on a bus to a nearby city, Hotel Tonight gives you great deals on hotels – you guessed it- the same night. They can also help you pick a hotel that’s right for you, from basic to super luxe. Use promo code RMEDLOCK for $25 off your first booking!
There are two ways to fly “off-peak” – days and destinations. Off-peak days are generally considered Monday afternoon through Thursday morning. Fares are significantly higher if you fly on the weekend, Monday morning, or Thursday night. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, try to schedule your flights on off-peak days. Don’t forget that Monday or Friday holidays could also be a factor!
Off-peak destinations get a little more complicated. Basically, think about the logical place to go for the time of year, then do the opposite to avoid high rates. For example, summer is peak season for destination like Europe, Alaska, and Canada. Spring would be peak season for anywhere college students would flock for spring break. Do some research on peak season for your desired destination. Traveling in the off season can be a fantastic way to experience a destintion in a way most others don’t. Keep in mind that some attractions may be closed!
If your heart isn’t set on a particular destination, use Groupon’s “Last Minute” section. It can be a wasteland or a goldmine on any given day, but you never know what might catch your eye. Here are some deals I found today:
If you are feeling the itch to travel, I hope these tips help you take that last-minute trip. Spontaneous trips can sometimes be the most fun!