Are you someone who cannot decide where and when you want to go somewhere until the last minute? If so, this article is for you! If you use the right search tools, and look for the right information you can find some amazing deals. I have found that trips you take this way can be more incredible and more memorable than trips you carefully plan out months in advance!
Contrary to what alot of people think, last minute travel can be, but doesn’t have to be spendy. But, in order to get the best last minute deals you need both a sense of adventure and you need to be able to pick up at a moment’s notice.
You should also keep in mind that getting a deal on flights on short notice is not what it used to be. Back in the day you could go the airport, asked to be put on a waiting list and then cross your fingers. In todays day and where flights are mostly full and any waitlist that is offered, priority is usually given to pilots, flight attendants, airline employee family members etc. so the chances of getting a seat are slim.
Now with keeping this all in mind, I have come up with some important tips that I think you should at least consider when you are thinking of flying somewhere at the spur of the moment.
The first thing you need to do if you are planning on travelling internationally is to look a your passport and make sure that’s it has AT LEAST 6 MONTHS left before it expires. If you don’t the airlines may not let you get on your flight or even worse you may not be allowed to enter the country you flew too. The reason for this is because most but not all countries will not allow you to stay for more then 3 months without having you get a visa because at that point they no longer consider you a tourist. The 6 months therefore, allows for a sort of cushion on that rule as well as cover for any countries that have different time frames.
Travelling last minute to any country that requires a visa is pretty much of a non starter due to the obvious time constraints. Therefore, make sure you check to make sure none are required to the place you are deciding to go to as its your responsibility to know this type of information before buying your ticket or even worse getting to the airport.
Once you have your documentation situation ironed out you can start looking for the deals and try to be as flexible as possible.. The more flexible your with both your dates of travel and where you are willing to fly to,, the better the deal that can be found. So don’t have any predetermined place in mind as you really should be looking for deal first… destination second.
DAYS TO BOOK
Every airline is different so this is not an absolute however airlines will commonly put up last minute airfares for flights that leave on Fridays and Saturdays, and these deals are released on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays so if you can, try to plan accordingly.
In order to get the best prices you need to willing to fly either really late or really early. The majority of travelers are usually unwilling to take those 4am and 5am flights or those flights that get into cities at 2am or 3am. Therefore, if you can bear the pain of either or both of these scenarios the likelihood of you getting a deal on a last minute flight goes up substantially as there is much more open space on these flights.
The one thing you need to check on with these type of flights, if they are connecting, is how long the layover is. As my brother likes to say sometimes “cheap is expensive in the end” and you don’t want to spend a day in the airport just because you are saving $50.00 by taking the early flight.
Thinking of traveling last minute during any of the major holidays like Christmas? To be blunt, don’t even try at least for airfare. The likelihood of getting a good last minute deal on flights is just about none so plan accordingly. However if you did go so far as making those plane reservations they you should have luck getting deals on hotels during time likes these especially if you have a ticket to Europe during times like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Its a lot easier to get a deal as a solo traveler then when booking for more. There always seems to be that 1 last seat available or that 1 last tour spot available that maybe would not have been where you going with a larger group. Its also easier in the planning and decision making stages when those deals pop and time is of the essence before they disappear. But, OK , so maybe travelling by yourself doesn’t sound like fun, however the reality of travelling by yourself is very different than what the majority of people think, and could even be completely different than even you might imagine. I have had some of the best trips of my life when going alone. It forces you to interact with other that you might not have if you were travelling with a companion and it also opens up endless possibilities of new and potentially unusual adventures that you may not have had if you were travelling with others.
If you are traveler that would prefer to get a last minute package instead of piecing it together, than you will have to look for travel packages that don’t require advance purchases and this could be hit or miss. Now this may sound old school but you may want to check out some local agents or even call companies that specialize in travel packages and ask them to let you know if they ever have a cancellaton on a group tour they have going to let you. There are also companies out there that have a list of last minute deals that they are trying to still sell. For example Intrepid Travel has such a page or you check with a company like Booking.com.
So you get so caught up in looking for and booking a last minute trip you forgot to consider the consequences if, for some reason, you are not able to go. Should you try and cap the downside of booking a last minute trip and by trying to get back some or all your money? Did you know that getting travel insurance close to your actual travel date is the most common reason that claims are denied? Even though its possible to buy travel insurance a close as a day before you go, what that insurance will actually cover should you make a claim is something else altogether. For example, last minute policies will not cover pre – existing conditions, cancel for any reason or hurricane coverage. However the good news is for international travelers can still get international medical policies even after their departure since your domestic policy will not work overseas. Just make sure you read the fine print of any policy you decide to get as some coverage that may be listed in the policy make require a more advanced purchase.
If you are a habitual last minute traveler than I would recommend that you sign up for the newsletters, facebook and twitter feeds of your preferred airline or travel company for flash sales. They not only send out last minute airfare deals but also travel packages to popular destinations such as Las Vegas, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. If you wanted to be more aggressive you could contact them directly vis social media and sometimes you could get lucky and they will offer you a discount for a last minute trip that the tour operator they deal with is offering to fill the last couple of places they have available.. You should also look into signing up for both deal alert and flight alert services. In order to not to get inundated with emails, tailor what they send to destinations that you are most interested in going to on your next trip.
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
No matter where you decide to go, try not to think about it too much. Because while you are pondering whether you should go with this deal or that others are booking and you therefore you stand a good chance, if you think about it too much, that by the time you decide to book your flight, it will be gone.