Last minute travel can be overwhelming and intimidating – but it can also be incredibly liberating and so much fun! Whether you travel for a weekend getaway or to refresh from the winter blues, last minute travel can open new destination possibilities and incredible experiences.
Imagine the possibilities: zipping off to New York City to see a show, flying to Paris to visit the Eiffel Tower, or the Caribbean for a weekend of sand and sun. Theses are just a few of the possibilities open to you with these last minute travel tips.
Last minute travel is totally possible
There was a myth in the past that you had to book flights and hotels months or even a year in advance to score the best deals. But with the abundance of travel sites and information available on the Internet, that is no longer the case. I regularly book flights for even the next day at a fraction of what would be a “good” price.
The key to do this is patience and persistence. Expect to spend a few hours planning and booking your trip. This time invested could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and create your dream holiday. To travel successfully last minute, there are a few basic criteria.
Tips to save money for successful last minute travel
Flexibility with destination
Ideally, for last minute travel you should be open to any destination. Then you can use Google flights and secretflying.com to find the best last-minute deals from your location. This can lead to an incredible Caribbean vacation or new European destination. They key is to keep an open mind. Once you find a great deal, you can locate the best activities in your possible destinations.
Flexibility with dates
If you know you have some time off in the next month, for example, and the dates are flexible, then its best to play around and see which dates provide the best value. Most airline booking apps will show you the prices on various dates or even for the whole month, as will Google flights or momondo.com. If you can be flexible with your dates, you can often score deals to your dream destination.
Piecing together flights
Usually for last minute travel I like to go to one destination, but another option is to piece together a few legs of a trip. For example, you may be able to get an inexpensive flight to Lisbon, and another inexpensive flight to Rome, with a return flight from Milan.
This itinerary can be pieced together as several one-way tickets. While not always the best way to book, this is always worth checking because there are often incredible last minute deals of one-way flights
Try to book for at least a week in advance
Although I’ve successfully gotten last minute travel deals on the day before travel, in order to take advantage of the first two tips, it’s best to start looking at least a week in advance. If you have the time, three weeks in advance is ideal to give maximum flexibility for last minute bookings. This window of a couple weeks will allow you to score the best deals.
Cash in your hotel points
If you have hotel points, or free nights, you can easily book the hotel last minute as long as the hotel is not already full. Unless your destination has a large conference or other event, you shouldn’t have any difficulty booking last minute hotels. You can check agoda.com and also hotels.com for other hotel deals.
Ask Airbnb hosts
I’ve had some good luck sending a private message to Airbnb hosts asking for a last minute deals. Something like this works well:
Sample message to hosts
I’m interested in your property (location). Right now, I plan to arrive tomorrow, and want to book for one week. I’m coming for (winter escape, babymoon, graduation celebration, or whatever reason you have).
As this booking is last minute, and in low season (or whatever the situation), I was wondering if you can give me a further discount? (can also add other details about why you’re a good guest, clean, quiet, older, etc). I am also contacting other hosts to see who can give me the best deal.
I think your property is ideal for me and look forward to working with you.
If your initial search doesn’t reveal any great deals, don’t immediately give up. Remember point one above and try different dates and different destinations. Sometimes prices can change quickly. With these search tips, when a sale comes and the prices suddenly go down, you are ready to book.
You can save money and still travel!
I know it seems impossible or even irresponsible, but last minute travel can be so much fun and relatively easy to organize. It can open a whole new world of possibilities for travel people in all budget categories.
Imagine a $100 ticket to Europe from North America, or an all-inclusive weekend in Greece for $200. Yes, it is definitely worth following these tips and reaping the benefits of last minute travel for you. After reading these tips, you are ready to start exploring today.