25 of Our Favorite Hacks for Last Minute Travel Tips for Summer’s End
Summer is almost over. Almost, but not quite. So, if you’ve been too busy to get away, or haven’t been able to travel due to restrictions, there’s still some time. Last minute travel can be exciting, and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg—in fact, it can be cheaper than trips planned far in advance.
If you’ve got a little flexibility in your schedule and want to make the most of what’s left of summer, here are a few ‘hacks’ for last-minute travel.
But wait: Before you book that trip or get on that plane, make sure to check travel restrictions to your destination, make sure you follow social-distancing guidelines, and take a mask and a spare!
1. Enable Flight Alerts
If you’re looking for travel dates, sign up for flight alerts that email you when the flight goes up and down in price. Or, you sign up for newsletters from travel sites that will tell you when deals are available (you can always unsubscribe after your trip).
This 4 step Google Flight Alert process from Million Mile Secrets can help you set up Google Flight alerts, though Expedia, Priceline, and others also allow you to set up alerts. If you have a favorite travel site, check there, first.
2. See a Travel Agent
Yup. They still exist and most of the time they can get you a deal just as good, or better, than anything you can find online.
3. Shop Incognito
Don’t let your cookies raise your prices. Your computer actually automatically tracks the things that you search and will hike up prices on flights if they see that you’re looking. To avoid this, use an incognito browser when travel shopping.
“Going Incognito” is easy. In Chrome, just click the 3 vertical dots on the far end of the browser, then “New Incognito Window.” Once you do, a new window will open up and your previous browsing history won’t impact any sites you visit.
Note: In other browsers, “Incognito Mode” may be called something like “Private Browsing,” but the principle is the same.
4. Be Flexible With Dates
Traveling in the middle of the week helps you miss the business crowds and leaving on the weekend helps you miss the folks looking for a long weekend. If you’re not set on certain dates, be willing to travel when no one else is.
5. Use the 14 Day Window
Don’t shop without using the 14-day rule window; this means that if airlines, hotels, and cruise operators are not fully booked, there are often discounts available two weeks in advance.
6. Buy a One-Way Ticket
Don’t worry, you can come home (if you want to) but purchasing separate one-way flights is sometimes more affordable than a two-way trip. Try a few combinations to get the best deal.
7. Bundle Your Fun
Bundling your flight, hotel, rental car, and activities can often reduce the total cost of a last-minute vacation. Most travel sites will help you search for these deals.
8. Use Transferable Points
If you can wait until a few days before to book, airlines often open up award space just a day or two before travel when there are unsold seats. If you have cards like Citibank Thank You, American Express Membership Rewards, or Chase Ultimate Rewards you can take advantage of these moments.
9. Try a Train
Trains give you an up close and personal look at the local terrain and last-minute tickets on Amtrak can be an affordable alternative to short-haul or regional flights.
10. There’s an App For That
There are a lot of apps that will help you find the best deals on travel, from dining to flight to lodging.
- Google Flights Discover Destinations
- The Get the Flight Out app
- Sweet Escapes
- And so many more
11. Take a Road Trip
You can make the most of your money by staying on the ground and planning a scenic road trip. If you have a fuel-efficient car you can save even more money.
12. Secret Hotels
Sites like Hotwire and Priceline let you type in the locale you want, your preferred hotel star rating, and a price. The kicker is, you won’t know what hotel you’ll be staying in until the transaction is complete. If you know some clever “hacks,” you may be able to save even more!
13. Book Through the Hotel (not a website)
Instead of booking online, pick up the phone. Check the price listed online for your dates, then ask whether the hotel can do better. Make sure to talk to the front desk not the reservation line.
14. Use a Price Aggregator
Sites like Kayak gather the prices for flights, hotels, or cars all in one place and allow you to find the best rate.
15. Hotel Hop
If you’re willing to move around, you can sometimes get good deals by hotel hopping. Once you’ve checked-in, try upgrading to another property with steep day-of price reductions.
16. Sign Up
Members usually get discounts on sites like Hotwire and Priceline. It’s worth the extra emails in your inbox to save that 10% (or more).
If you’re booking on Airbnb or VRBO, you’re dealing directly with the owner of the property. If you’re traveling at the last minute, they might be willing to come down on price a little. But be reasonable and be nice.
18. Go Camping
Camping can be a great way to get away from it all at the last minute. If you already have the gear, campsites are usually between $20 and $30 depending on your location.
19. Stay With Friends or Family
If you can find an affordable flight or drive, staying with friends or family is a great way to save on lodging. Then, you can that money for awesome experiences.
20. Two Words: All-Inclusive
All inclusive cruises might seem expensive up front but if they include meals and alcohol, you’ll end saving a lot of money. But, make sure you read the fine print. Not all cruises are all inclusive and if you’re not diligent you might end up paying for things you don’t expect.
21. Keep an Eye on Prices
If you choose to cruise and notice your cabin goes up for a cheaper price during your trip you might be able to get the cruise company to refund the difference.
22. Ask the Locals
Once you pick your destination, avoid tourist destinations. Instead, ask the locals for their favorite dining spots, coffee shops, or activities. They’ll most likely be cheaper and probably a lot better than the big touristy spots.
23. Watch Social Media
Follow all your fave providers on social media. If deals or discounts come up, they’ll most likely share it there first.
24. Be Flexible
When you’re looking for deals, you should be open for anything. If you’re ready to travel at the last minute or switch up your destination, you can get an amazing trip.
25. Pack Lightly
If you can keep your stuff down a single bag, you won’t have to pay baggage fees and you can use cheaper airlines, like Spirit. To keep your baggage from getting stuffed, your clothes from getting dirty and your bag within the carry on qualifications, carry your shoes in a ShoeSling®. In fact, using the ShoeSling® will free up more space in your suitcase, whichever travel type, method, or hack you use. Sign up for our mailing list today to claim a discount on your first order!