5 Last Minute Travel Tips for Cheap Holidays

Ok, so it’s a couple days before you’re scheduled to leave for your big holiday trip.  You’ve bought all your gifts, taken time off work, and are super excited to spend some quality time with family… However, you feel like there’s something you forgot to, but can’t put your finger on it… Oh wait, that’s right, you were supposed to BOOK THE TRIP!!

I hope that scenario hasn’t happened to you, but if it has, these last minute travel tips should help save some money.

1. Be Flexible

You’re likely going to have to give a little now that you’re backed into a corner. Convenient flights are going to be hard to find, but there are tons of resources online that focus on late travel deals.  Places like tripalertz or lastminutetravel are ones that I’ve used and had positive experiences with.  Also, a real cool site that can help you plan flights with the customer in mind is hipmunk.com.  It was started by a reddit co-founder so you know they’ll have some good ideas in the flight niche. Anyways, using sites like these will help, but you will likely need to fly at off-hours (i.e. take a redeye) or move your travel dates around a bit so save some money.

photo credit: Cesar R. via photopin cc

photo credit: Cesar R. via photopin cc

2. Book Hotels Online

Ok, so you’ve booked the flights, and now need to think about where to stay.  It will be tempting to just wing it once you get there, but that’s a quick way to blow the budget.  Think about it this way, when you show up in person you are 1.) likely not talking to someone who can actually offer a lower rate and 2.) in desperate need of a place to stay and more likely to pay more than you would otherwise! The best way around this is to book online even if you’ve looking for a hotel last minute or right outside the hotel entrance.  You can quickly search for deals on multiple sites and have a guaranteed price.

3. Haggle

Hopefully this doesn’t detract from the previous bit of advice, but haggling last minute is still a good bet.  If you combine both being in person and quickly searching for deals across sites when booking hotels it’s possible to get an even lower rate.  At worst you’ll get the online offer.  Once you’re in your destination location my advice is to haggle for everything because people are always willing to negotiate.  This is great strategy to lower the cost of any trip.

4. Bring cash

I always bring cash on my trips, but this is especially important if it’s a last minute trip.  Your ability to be flexible and negotiate is dramatically improved if you’re able to offer cash.  Merchants won’t have to worry about the transaction costs of a discounted rate and are more likely to give in.

5. Enjoy the Journey!

Lastly, while the trip might not be the same as originally intended, relax and enjoy the journey! It’s likely that the spontaneity of the trip will make it more memorable and can even make it more enjoyable for you and your family if you handle the stress well.

Have other thoughts or tips you’ve used for last minute travel? Feel free to leave a note in the comments…

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