Unexpected trips are common, whether for business or personal reasons, but the shorter the time to make them possible, the higher the prices and fees. It may seem like there is no option, but some tips can help save you money when organizing a last minute trip.
Although it is better to book flights and hotels in advance, it is also possible to control spending in this situation. It will take a little more research, but with miles, right websites and applications, and a little flexibility, this is possible.
5 tips to plan a last minute trip:
Avoid booking fees
Using miles or bonuses to book a flight is, in most cases, better than paying cash. Unfortunately, some airlines, such as American Airlines and United Airlines, charge a $75 fee for travel booked within 21 days of departure.
So if the ticket is cheap, it pays more to pay this amount and leave to use your points later, on more expensive trips.
Many other international airlines, such as Aeromexico and Singapore Airlines, do not charge booking fees.
Some companies usually offer a larger number of bonus seats a few days before departure, after most passengers have already paid for their tickets. Keep an eye on this feature before putting your hand in your pocket.
Search for ticket prices on more than one site
Today, airlines prefer to keep the best prices on their own websites instead of putting them on tourist portals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good promotion on one of them.
The Momondo platform is probably the fastest way to find last-minute flights for a good price, because it compares the values directly from airline websites and specialized websites in seconds. In fact, it’s no slower than Google Flights, which can also be a good alternative.
Flights that leave early or arrive late usually have more discount. If you have a flexible schedule, this may be the best way to save money and still travel on the desired dates.
Still, check the stopover times. Many times, for a just a little higher value, you can make the same trip without spending a whole day at the airport because you chose a flight that left at 4 am to save US$ 75.
Bonus tip: be sure to search nearby airports to find lower prices, even though the big airports have the reputation of tickets with more affordable values.
Travel during the week
Booking a flight only 48 hours in advance can cost up to double. Sometimes it is necessary to take some extra actions if you have a trip that comes at the last moment and is unavoidable.
If possible, try to extend the dates to the middle of the week, when most people who travel for work are already at their destinations. If you have some flexibility, try to fly these days and book your ticket as soon as possible.
In these cases, the difference of only one day can mean a big difference.
Be sure to check the last minute promotions on the companies’ websites as well. As an empty seat brings no profit, they offer discounts on less popular routes to fill the plane and even attract people to new routes.
Search for hotel promotions
Instead of already booking a room when entering a hotel’s website, look for promotions. You can also use sites like Trivago, which compares hotel prices, and Expedia, which always offers discounts.
If you prefer to pay with points, you must make a reservation directly at the hotel. Some loyalty programs, like the Hilton, allow you to share points with friends or family if the room is shared. And, if before it was necessary to complete with money when the total of points was not enough, today it is already possible, in some places, to make the reservation anyway.
Be open to the unexpected
You will find the best deals at the last minute out of season, when the destination is not very specific and when there is no need to fly.
If you have tried all these tips to find affordable tickets, consider driving or taking the train to your destination. It is possible to arrive as fast as by plane and still save money.
When you don’t have a defined destination, you can find unexpected promotions by subscribing to airline newsletters, cruises, hotels and tourism websites.