1. One of the secrets to booking a last minute trip is to take a “satisfier” approach and not a “maximizer” approach.
The difference – a satisfier has criteria they want to fulfill and as soon as they find something that fits that criteria, they go with it. For example, under $60 a night, has microwave, gets at least 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor (Those are pretty much our criteria for booking a hotel).
In contrast, maxmizers keep searching until they’re convinced they’ve found the absolute best deal.
2. Take your bag to work.
We’ve said this before, but a great tip for maximizing a last minute trip is to leave directly from work. You may only need to leave an hour or two earlier (or not leave early at all) to get a great deal on your flight and not lose a full day of your annual leave for your travel day.
3. Check for monsoons and public holidays at your destination.
It can be easy to push the button on last minute flights only to realize it’s monsoon season at your destination, or that one of the days you’ll be traveling is a public holiday. The public holiday issue isn’t usually a big deal but can occasionally create problems e.g., Thanksgiving weekend in the US.
4. Keep a packing master list.
Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you travel by making a new packing list each time. Keep your list of things you need and keep supplies of items like medication so you can easily do a last minute trip should be mood strike you and you see some awesome fares.
5. Set up fare alerts.
There can be great deals for weekend travel that only get released the middle of the prior week. If you’re US based, American Airlines often have these. Set up fare alerts so that you can grab these whenever they come up.
6. Set your criteria for last minute trips.
For example, I want to go to destination X, Y, Z. They’re on my bucket list. I will go if I can get a 3 day weekend at that destination for under X dollars/pounds including flight and hotel.
7. The more we travel, the less we like travel planning.
Travel planning used to be fun in our backpacking days when every dollar/quid counted. Now we plan less and less, and really want to get the planning component out of the way as soon as possible. If you’re heading somewhere like NYC or Las Vegas and it’s a last minute thing, there are some excellent online deals out there for short holidays. People think these are going to be a bad deal but they can save you money. This makes most sense when any hotel is going to be much of a muchness, as in LV or NYC.