Whether you’re planning a trip for a spur-of-the-moment vacation or for a last minute business meeting, no one wants to pay the exorbitant costs that are associated with booking late. But your wallet needn’t tremble with fear if you want to jet off somewhere on a whim; read on for our tips and tricks to help you book last minute travel that won’t break the bank.
1. Travel & Stay Mid-Week
If your plans are a bit flexible, your best savings will come from booking your trip mid-week as opposed to a Saturday-Saturday stay or an extended weekend. This savings applies to flights, as well as hotels and even campgrounds, RV rentals & some excursions. Booking a weekend at high-end resorts will sometimes cost you double that of a mid-week reservation. Even state-run campsites raise their prices on the weekends due to the demand. Not only will you get a better deal by booking during the week, but you’ll have better availability to get the seat/room/campsite that you really want. And if you’re lucky, sometimes booking late on a weekday can even score you cool upgrades! And if you are strapped and have to fly out tonight, check out the FlightTonight app to find the best available deals at the very last minute.
2. Pick up the phone
This sounds like crazy advice in this day and age, but calling hotels and airlines directly can result in amazing savings you couldn’t get elsewhere. There was only a handful of times in my history of travel where the phone agent couldn’t beat the online price. Usually, the customer service agents know what deals and promotions are available, so you can get inside deals just by being polite and asking nicely. I’ve even received better rooms than I even knew were available just by chatting with the customer service rep for a few minutes. Human interaction often can’t be trumped by technology when it comes to scoring the best deals.
3. Be flexible with your dates, destination, and mode of transportation
Having flexibility with every aspect of your traveling plans will not only keep you from having to pay ridiculous prices, but it may even save you more money than if you had booked months ago. If you’re flexible as to where you’re going, where you’ll stay and how you’ll get there, you can *almost* travel on a shoestring budget. Subscribe to your favorite travel newsletters to get great deals on last-minute getaways for times you aren’t set on a particular destination. You can find some amazing last minute deals to destinations all over the world that way! With flights, you’ll find the best deals by taking the least ideal routes, like red-eye flights and those with long layovers.
If you’re up to winging it when it comes to your hotel room, you can land great savings by utilizing the HotelTonight app once you get to your destination. It aggregates all of the nearby hotels that offer discounts on rooms they were unable to fill for the night. You may need to “hotel hop” when doing this, as opposed to spending your trip all in one place, but you’ll ultimately pay much less than guests who planned ahead! Think outside of the box when contemplating transportation and your accommodations (you could take the train instead of flying or try Airbnb and hostels) to make your spontaneous trip your cheapest getaway yet!
4. Go the all-inclusive route
If you don’t have the time to research hotels, transportation and meals/entertainment in your destination, look into all-inclusive resorts or even last-minute cruises. You’ll save a significant amount of time (as well as stress) when you don’t have to plan everything at the last minute. You only need to plan on how to get there and you’re all set for fun! Sometimes, like with cruising, you can even save money by booking at the last minute since the ship (or resort) is trying to fill their vacancies however they can.
5. Search for package deals
Sometimes bundling your flight, hotel, car rental and/or activities together via a third party site (like Travelocity or Priceline) can save you a decent chunk of change, even if you pay more for the airfare upfront. Check multiple sites before booking to make sure you’re getting the best deal and compare the individual costs to ensure you’re actually saving money instead of falling for slick advertising traps. We would be remiss not to mention that we offer hotel + parking packages. Park at an airport hotel, stay the night before your flight at the hotel, and fly out the next day! It’s perfect for those early morning flights. Select the ‘Hotel & Parking Package’ tab on our homepage to make a search.