Do you ever wish you could be impulsive when you make travel plans? Or maybe you've had something unexpected happen and need to travel without breaking your budget?
Last minute travel can be intimidating to arrange. In addition to all the life plans you need to sort, you also have to worry about expenses. It's common for airline prices to be higher when you book a last-minute flight, and your options are less limited if flights are full.
But last minute travel can also get you great deals if you know where to look. Travel booking sites often partner with airlines and hotels trying to get rid of unbooked reservations. These are the best places to try.
Top 5: Last Minute Travel Deal Resources
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Priceline is a travel booking website that makes it easy to coordinate your entire trip. The hotel and flight bundle booking is ideal for those who want to quickly find hotel options that cover the entirety of their trip for a discounted price.
With this service, you can book hotels, flights, and rental cars. You can also browse cruise packages to plan your next vacation. When you book with the app, you'll be shown exclusive deals that aren't available through website browsing alone.
The service offers 24/7 customer support and a price match guarantee. If you find a lower price, you'll be refunded one hundred percent of the difference in the purchase price. You can also sign up for the service's mailing list to be sent email-exclusive coupons that you can't get elsewhere.
This is an ideal tool to use when looking for last minute travel bookings because of the Express Deals program. When you search for Express Deals, you'll be shown only exclusive deals on flights. Finding flights may be a little difficult, especially if you have very specific search parameters. But this is where airlines will offload their unused seats.
The thing about Express Deals is that you'll be shown the departure airport, arrival airport, and the approximate time of day that the flight departs and arrives. But you won't be shown the airline, exact times, or information about the layovers. With hotel searches, you're given an approximate location and star rating but no other information.
By obscuring this information, you get better deals than you'd find with more specific searches. But you won't know exactly what hotel you're staying at or airline you're flying with until you book your purchase, which is non-refundable.
Kayak is a service that's built around simplicity. The goal is to make it easy to plan your next vacation or last minute travel adventure. To that end, you can compare different travel packages to find the cheapest. You can also find many different flight destinations based on a budget if you haven't chosen where to go yet.
There are dynamic maps and flexible search tools available to show you a variety of your options. You can also sign up to get price alerts, which will let you know if a better deal for certain search parameters has cropped up.
There's also a very robust number of booking options. When planning your last minute travel, you can find side-by-side rates for any of the following:
You'll have to book your actual trip through the airline or hotel website since the service just lets you search for deals. But that's not a huge dealbreaker.
The flexible time frame searching is ideal for those booking last minute deals. You can filter your options by certain dates, months, or weekends. But the calendar will also show you the lowest prices for the days surrounding your preferred time frame. If leaving a day earlier will get you a better deal, you'll know right away.
The dynamic maps are also very helpful when booking your place to stay. When you look at hotels, you'll be shown a map that highlights the cheapest options. It will also show the proximity of each hotel to the best neighborhoods for dining, sightseeing, and shopping.
You can also use the Trip Huddle feature to plan group trips.
Trip.com is a competitively priced booking site that lets you compare flights, hotels, rental cars, and trains. Customer support is available 24 hours a day, and packages are sourced from more than 500 suppliers.
This is one of the best booking sites to use if you're doing last minute travel internationally. The service compares prices from more than 1.2 million hotels in over 200 countries, and it can show you flight prices to more than 5,000 cities.
Joining as a member gives you access to member-exclusive deals, which can sometimes save as much as 50 percent. You can also join the email list to be sent updates on secret deals that only subscribers can access.
The website allows you to look at the most popular attractions in a variety of cities. You can also browse hotel offerings and learn about the history of different hotels and attractions.
Reservations.com is a good place to look for last minute travel deals if you're traveling in the US or Canada. It searches for deals from more than 500,000 hotels. You can easily book your hotel stays through the app and manage bookings for more convenience during your trips.
By using the website's interface, you can look for your preferred hotel, indicate how many days you want to stay, and book a room. The site aims to provide affordable options for both middle-class individuals and those on a shoestring budget.
When you look for your preferred travel destination, you'll be shown a list of potential deals on hotels. Some of these may be last minute travel deals from hotels unloading rooms that won't otherwise be used. Though there are hotels found worldwide, the largest selection is in the United States.
Checkout is done through the app itself, which makes the process streamlined and easy. You just have to provide basic information, choose your hotel, and indicate your travel dates. You'll go through a secure online checkout process and receive a confirmation email within minutes.
Your confirmation email has a basic travel itinerary and all the information you need when you travel. This takes a lot of the headache out of booking.
Onetravel is an online travel agency with robust customer support and access to last minute deals. There are many promotions and deals that run the closer you get to your travel date. You can book vacation packages, hotels, flights, and rental cars.
Comparing flights is easy. All you have to do is enter basic information on the homepage, and you'll instantly be shown a comparison of available flights. The cheapest flights appear at the top of the list.
The hotel selection also has more discounts than you'll often get with competing services. You get a list of every available promotion for different hotels. Plus, the service often runs sales with coupon codes that you can input to get greater savings.
Hotel bookings are sorted into categories: Deals by Destination or Deals by Theme.
If you sort by destination, you'll be shown the most discounted hotel prices in a certain city. This will include all hotels in the area no matter their star rating, amenities, or convenience. You can filter for more specific results.
If you sort by theme, you'll be shown all the hotels that meet a certain theme. For example, maybe you're looking or a hotel on the beach or a hotel with a casino. Every result will also show you the price and star rating of the room, and you can filter your results.
The car rental system also often has discount codes available. Even when there aren't discount codes to use, you can book an affordable rental by comparing many options based on price. Some of the rentals are as low as seven dollars per day.
For the absolute best travel site for last minute travel deals, we have to go with Priceline. The Express Deals feature gives you access to greater savings on last minute bookings, and there are more app-exclusive and email-exclusive deals than you get with other services.
If you want a good site for comparing flexible dates, though, Kayak is the way to go. You can use the calendar feature to see the cheapest minimum package for different days of the week, which lets you pick your arrival date based on what's most affordable.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know If I've Found a Good Last Minute Deal?
Last minute deals will vary widely depending on the type of booking you're making.
An ideal option will discount the price of the flight or hotel rather than raising it. You might be able to apply special discounts and promotions if you use certain third party booking apps.
What Should I Look for in Last Minute Flight Deals?
Many flights fill up weeks in advance. You'll find the best deals if you're flexible in your criteria. It's best not to have too many stipulations about the time of day you leave, the airline you travel with, or the number of layovers there are.
If you do have stringent criteria, though, you can look for a travel site that lets you filter your results based on your preferences. This will let you find deals that meet your specific needs.