It’s no secret that planning a trip at the last minute isn’t the most budget-friendly vacation strategy. When you’re short on time, hunting for a bargain is rarely at the top of the priority list.
Here are some tips and tricks on how to plan a vacation on the fly this summer without breaking the bank.
Let Someone Else Do The Flight Work
You may not have the time or patience to scour every corner of the internet for last-minute flight deals. But there are people who actually get paid to do it all day long, and they are an amazing resource.
Follow Secret Flying, The Flight Deal, Fareness, Hopper and Airfarewatchdog on social media, sign up for their newsletters and download the apps. This is one of the best ways to find amazing last-minute travel deals, even if you don’t know where you want to go.
Pay Attention To Flight Days
On that note, if you choose to book your own flight, try to buy your airline tickets on a Sunday or a Tuesday. Airlines like to discount their flight fares for later in the week on these two days.
Also, if you choose to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, it’s much easier to avoid premium rates, since business travelers typically fly Mondays through Fridays.
Another great flight booking tip is to consider booking separate one-way flights on two different aircraft carriers. This can sometimes offer a better value than booking a round-trip flight.
Use An App For Hotel Deals
If you need spur-of-the-moment lodging, hotel apps will be your best friends.
To book up to one week ahead of travel, use HotelTonight for everything from basic to luxe accommodations. Their special GeoRates target users based on their GPS location. Plus, some of the best deals are only available on the app.
One Night offers same-day bookings for spontaneous stays at unbeatable rates. They work with dozens of luxury properties to offer you the best last-minute deals. The app also shares insider tips about what to see, do, taste and try during your stay.
Don’t forget AirBnB, either, because you might be able to find an entire apartment to stay in for the same price as a budget motel room. Many AirBnB hosts will even drop the price of their listings at the last minute.
Get Creative With Food
Snagging a last minute reservation at your vacation spot’s most popular restaurant is probably not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for drive-thru food. Instead, sign up for services like Traveling Spoon or EatWith.
These sites connect you with local families or chefs before you go, and when you arrive at your destination, they will invite you over for a meal.
Traveling Spoon allows you to book a private meal with a fantastic home chef, while EatWith offers “intimate culinary experiences led by passionate hosts and chefs that will take your breath away.”
Take A Gamble
Some of the best travel deals can pop up at the last minute on sites like Hotwire and Priceline. The downside is that these deals are typically for unnamed hotel properties and car rentals, so those details aren’t revealed until you commit to your purchase. But if you’re willing to take a gamble, you might pay 50 or 60% less than published rates.
The same can be said for tropical weather. If you’re willing to take a risk and head to Cancún, Puerto Rico or other Caribbean islands during hurricane season, you might find an unbeatable last minute deal. To be on the safe side, travel insurance would be a great purchase.
Last minute travel can be exciting and spontaneous – and you don’t need to break the bank to do it. If you’re willing to be flexible, you might just find yourself enjoying a last-minute champagne vacation on a beer budget.
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