Americans are booking more spur-of-the-moment trips than ever: 72 percent of mobile travel bookings are made with only 24 hours in advance! Here, pro tips to slash the cost of hotels, flights, and more.
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Save Money On Travel
Opt for “canceled” trips
“You can get excellent last-minute deals by buying flights and hotel reservations from other travelers who can’t use theirs at sites like SpareFare and roomer. If these people don’t sell their reservations, they’ll lose everything they’ve paid for them, and most people would rather get some of their money back than lose it all. As a buyer, you’re not only getting a bargain vacation, you’re also helping out a fellow traveler.” — Andrea Woroch, money-saving expert
Pinpoint hotel deals
“A great way to save on last-minute travel is with HotelTonight, a free app that shows the best hotel deals available in the next few days. I’ve found luxury properties at up to 70 percent off nightly rates. Check throughout the day since new deals constantly appear. You can also find deals in the ‘Tonight’ section at Expedia. These deals are available because hotels would rather fill a room for less than leave it empty.” — Viktoria Altman, travel writer
Keep dates flexible
“Be prepared to travel any day of the week. Flights and hotels tend to be cheaper if you’re willing to leave on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Many people don’t have the flexibility to do this, but if you can, you’ll save big. Airlines like Southwest and Delta offer low-fare calendars on their websites; just type in your departure city and your destination to view fares for several dates.” — Jennifer Dubose, travel writer
Travel where the sales take you
“I advise looking for deals rather than picking the destination, then figuring out the cost. A great site for savings: Jetsetter. They recently had luxury hotels in Miami for 60 percent off. Just click on the Flash Sales tab to see the best deals, then act fast, as most are available for a short time. I’ve snagged outrageous specials to dream destinations for a couple hundred dollars.” — Janice S. Lintz, travel writer and moderator of the Facebook group, Traveling the World
Consider “hidden city” fares
“You can save on airfare by using Skiplagged to search for a 'hidden city' deal — a flight that has your destination as a stopover on a multi-leg flight. Instead of taking the final leg, you get off at the layover. This can save you $100 or more per ticket. Just be sure you only travel with a carry-on and never book a roundtrip ticket with this method: If you don’t take the second flight, some airlines may cancel your return ticket.” — Mona Corona, travel blogger
Snag serious savings on hotel gift cards
“One out-of-the-box way to save on hotels is to look for Hotels.com gift cards at Amazon. If you sign up for Amazon Lightning Deals, you’ll be notified when gift cards go on sale. That’s when you’ll find deals like 20% off $100 gift cards that you can use to book your stay. You can even pair these cards with other discounts. Check Hotels.com's coupons & promo codes page, where you’ll find more deals like 8 percent off a stay. What’s more, the site offers a price guarantee, so if you find a lower price elsewhere, they’ll pay you the difference.” — Mona Corona
Head away from airports for rental cars
“When booking a last-minute trip, picking up a rental car at the airport may seem convenient, but those locations routinely charge up to 30 percent more than their in-city counterparts. Plus, many companies will tack on an ‘airport fee’ for any car rented at an airport. Instead, grab an Uber or a taxi and leave the airport for a different rental location, where the savings almost always make up for the cost of the cab.” — Jake McKenzie, car expert at Auto Accessories Garage
Search out the lowest airfare
“An easy way to get alerted to cheap flights is to visit GTFO Flights, which features last-minute deals that can save you up to 80 percent off of airfare to many destinations. Check the website to view current deals, or you can sign up to receive the best fares sent straight to your inbox a few times a week. But be prepared to act fast, as most airlines only have a limited number of seats at the sale price, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Also, sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner have tools that help make finding the cheapest last-minute flight easier, including a map that shows nearby airports with lower fares.“ — Stacy Caprio, money-saving expert at DealsScoop.com
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.