The Best Apps & Sites for Finding Last Minute Travel Deals
After spending a year or more indoors and close to home due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, many vaccinated folks are taking advantage of the summer months by dipping their toes into travel again. Of course, with the Delta variant-related cases surging and many cities reinstating masking guidelines no matter one’s vaccination status, travel is still a tad up in the air. Although that touch-and-go mentality can be stressful, it might also contain a bit of a silver lining for would-be travelers who are waffling: there are plenty of last-minute travel deals out there.
So, whether you’re waiting until closer to your departure date to feel as good as you can about the most up-to-date travel guidance or if you’re looking to save a little on your next trip, we’ve rounded up some great tips and tricks when it comes to snagging those last-minute travel deals.
Don’t Discount Deals From Top Travel Sites
Don’t assume that the best last-minute travel deals are always lurking in some secret corner of the internet. While there are a few great hidden gems in the world of booking sites — some of which we’ll cover later — many of the mainstream platforms are certainly worth checking out. Several major travel sites have special “deals” or “last-minute” sections stocked with major discounts on getaways include the following:
Spin the Travel Wheel With Google Flights
Want to “get out of Dodge” for a bit? If you find yourself with a case of wanderlust but don’t have a clear destination in mind, that can definitely work to your advantage. How so? Head on over to Google Flights and enter the dates you’d like to travel, as well as the airport you want to fly out of, but leave the destination blank. Google Flights will surface a list of cheap flights to all kinds of destinations — and maybe something you didn’t expect will strike a chord.
If you have a fixed budget, you can even adjust the search filter so that only flights under a certain number will appear. There are also hotel and vacation rental options that will present you with random options from a variety of cities.
Sign Up for Cheap Travel Alerts
There are now a number of sites and services out there that can save you a lot of time by searching out the best last-minute travel deals for you. Some such bargain-hunting services offer free subscriptions, while others charge a small fee for their services. If you love traveling, however, the money you’ll pay to get the latest bargains can end up saving you a ton of money on airfare.
Once you subscribe, they’ll keep you up to date on the best-discounted flights available, some of which are offered at discounts of up to 40- 90% off. Some of the most popular and reputable flight deal sites include:
Search for Steals Through Costco & Groupon
While travel may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Costco, the company offers a pretty killer discount travel program to members. So, while you may use your Costco card mainly for purchasing cereal in bulk and saving on gas, don’t forget to check out the last minute all-inclusive vacations they offer. Check out Costco Travel to browse through their current deals, which feature everything from cruises to theme park packages.
If you’re not a card-carrying Costco customer, then you can still find deals on other sites like Groupon. Groupon offers an assortment of cool travel options, including last-minute deals and a list of hotels you can book for under $99 per night. Just be sure to read the fine print to see if your travel plans are booked through Groupon or if you need to contact the hotel directly to redeem your purchase and set up your trip.
Hear Us Out About Hostels…
We know what you’re probably thinking: hostels, really? While many people picture hostels as dormitories for broke college kids, some of them are actually pretty nice — and they’ll allow you to spend money on other trip-related expenses, while saving on your place to crash. No need to take our word for it. Just head over to Hostel World and take a look at some of the top-notch hostels on offer all over the world.
The vast majority of them offer private rooms and bathrooms, depending on your budget. Regardless of your accommodation choices, it can’t be denied that hostels can save you a great deal of money over traditional hotel rooms. It’s definitely not a bad option if you’re looking for something last-minute or if you don’t plan to spend a great deal of time hanging out at your hotel anyway.
Set Your Radar for Last-Minute Tour Deals
If you’re looking for a great adventure at a discount, then make sure you check out TourRadar. It offers a really cool assortment of travel opportunities that feature themed tours in a variety of different countries. It’s also got a last-minute deal page, where you can find some steep savings on tours coming up in the next two weeks to three months.
The best thing about many of the tours on offer? They’re all-inclusive, which means that they cover lodging, meals, and expert travel guides. While some of them also cover airfare, make sure you check whether or not the flight to your destination is included in the price before booking. Just scroll down the bottom of the page after selecting a promising-looking tour and the site will break down exactly what’s included.
Get a Great Hotel Room On the Fly With HotelTonight
There’s nothing worse than planning a spontaneous trip only to spend part of your first day looking for a last-minute hotel room. That’s where HotelTonight comes in. The company’s website, which is also available as an app, was made for just such situations. The premise is that there are almost always hotel rooms that go unbooked, which means that, if you know where to look, you can snag something swanky on a deep discount.
Head over to HotelTonight, type in your destination city, and see what’s on offer. The best part? Unlike some booking sites, you won’t find yourself scrolling through a bunch of unverified accommodations. That is, HotelTonight only works with verified, user-reviewed hotels, not unlike Airbnb.