Time Is Running Out to Plan a Summer Vacation: Here's How to Score Last-Minute Travel Deals

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Understanding how to find last-minute travel deals can feel as laborious as filing your taxes. The process seems overwhelming because it often requires making quick decisions on limited-time offers without the luxury of researching locations extensively or comparing different flight options.

However, finding last-minute travel deals doesn’t have to be stressful. With a few expert tips, you can quickly and easily book a trip to an amazing destination that’ll look (at least on Instagram) like you spent months planning it.

Be Flexible

For last-minute travelers, "flexibility is key," according to Christie Hudson, US Head of PR for Expedia. Hudson says to be flexible on your travel dates if you’re hoping to snag a deal — this could mean traveling on weekdays or off-peak seasons.

For example, departing on a Wednesday instead of over the weekend can save you 10-15% on airfare, according to Expedia’s Air Travel Hacks Report. In addition to that, you’ll also want to be conscious of what day you make your flight reservation: Booking flights on a Sunday can save you up to 15% on average.

Another way to save money on flights is to be flexible with the airport you depart from. For travelers who aren’t tied down to a specific destination, Hudson notes there are certain locations that, generally speaking, can offer great last-minute deals.

"Las Vegas, for one, commonly has tons of flight and hotel options, so you can probably find something that fits your budget at the last minute," Hudson said. "I also frequently see good rates to New York City and Orlando on the Expedia app, but again, it depends on where you’re flying from and demand for your travel dates."

Sign Up for Travel Newsletters

Travel newsletters can be a great resource for finding last-minute travel deals. By subscribing, you can receive flash sales and limited-time offers straight to your inbox.

Some newsletters, like Going, specialize in finding and sharing last-minute deals on flights. Others, like Travelzoo and Kayak, offer weekly deals on flights, hotels, and vacation packages. And if you’re looking for a luxury escape, keep an eye on the Jetsetter newsletter, which offers curated travel deals and recommendations for luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.

What's more, many newsletters allow you to customize your preferences, such as your preferred departure airport, travel dates, and destinations, so you can receive personalized alerts on the deals that matter to you.

black woman working with laptop at the airport waiting at the window
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Bundle, Bundle, Bundle

Bundling is another effective method to save money while traveling, according to Hudson. By booking flights, hotels, and car rentals together, travelers can save an average of $300.

Expedia offers various benefits to its members, including access to the best available rates, additional discounts, and the ability to accumulate rewards points for future bookings. By using the Expedia app, Hudson says members can browse last-minute deals and track flight prices using the Price Tracking and Predictions feature, which sends notifications when prices drop.

Use Deal-Finding Websites

Deal-finding websites are an excellent resource for travelers, as they offer the convenience of searching and comparing prices from multiple airlines, hotels, and car rental companies, all in one place.

These websites offer transparency in pricing, displaying all fees, taxes, and other charges upfront. They often provide exclusive deals and discounts, helping travelers save money on flights, hotels, and vacation packages.

Hotels will sometimes list their available rooms on these sites at a lower rate in the week leading up to the travel date. The downside to waiting, however, is that you may have fewer options and availability will be limited, says Hudson.

Follow airlines and hotels on social media

To score exclusive deals and discounts, it's worth following airlines and hotels on social media. Many of them post exclusive offers on their accounts, so it's a good idea to follow them to stay updated and take advantage of the savings.

Some airlines and hotels may even offer giveaways, allowing you to enter and potentially win discounted or free flights and hotel stays.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly

Last-minute deals often require quick action, so be prepared to book as soon as you find a deal that fits your budget and schedule. Waiting to book a flight, for example, may end up costing you — as your travel date approaches, the number of available seats on the flight decreases, which raises demand (and prices).

In addition, airlines use dynamic pricing algorithms that adjust ticket prices based on demand, availability, and other factors. If you intend to travel during peak holiday or vacation seasons, note that prices are likely to surge, due to increased demand as more people book their flights for the same timeframe.

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