I take a LOT of impulse, last minute trips. I booked my flight to Bangkok just 3 days prior to flying out with nothing but a backpack, booked my ticket to Mexico City the morning of my flight, and I booked tickets for my entire family within 24 hours of finding a great deal to Cologne for our European road trip.
But as you may have noticed, ticket prices tend to go up the longer you wait for them. I’ve certainly had my fair share of expensive last minute tickets, but by searching a few specific sites and planning a strategy, I’ve been able to save hundreds of dollars on last minute flights.
There are hundreds of lists online for ways to save money on last minute flights, but here are 5 ways I’ve found Cheap Last Minute Flights for my solo trips:
1. Be Flexible with Your Destination
Before my trip to Bangkok, I was debating going to Medellin, Berlin, or Bangkok. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the food and music in Medellin, I wanted to experience the tech hub of Europe, and I’ve always wanted to experience the exotic nature of the far south east.
In the end, it come down the cost of the tickets. Bangkok had a $400 flight leaving from San Francisco on a Wednesday morning with a layover in Hong Kong. I booked the ticket on the spot!
I knew I’d be travelling around South East Asia quite a bit, so it didn’t make a different to me if I had flown into Singapore, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh, or even Siem Reap. Tickets are far cheaper once you’re in the same vicinity. So I landed on Bangkok.
2. Use tools like Skyscanner, Adioso, or Google Flights
If your destination is flexible, you can find really cheap flights using Skyscanner, Adioso, or even Google Flights. I search for the city I’m flying out of (including nearby airports), and look at both one way or roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the world. You can narrow your search by price, and find the cheapest destination to fly to next.
Adioso is great for just finding the cheapest flights to anywhere if you don’t have a destination or specific date in mind. Skyscanner and Google Maps can help you do more in-depth research on those destinations.
In the end, just be sure to check multiple sites when looking for cheap flights. Just because an airlines site shows you a deal, doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest flight.
3. Sign up for Scotts Cheap Flights
I’ve been using Scotts Cheap Flights for over 2 years now, and I have many good things to say about them. It is a simple newsletter that Scott sends out just about every day with the latest flight deals he’s seen, and how to book them. While you’ll still need to be flexible on dates and your destination, this is a great way to find quick and cheap flights.
I used Scott’s Cheap Flights when I booked our summer European road trip with my family.
4. Travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays
After looking at thousands of different flights, I’ve found Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays to be the cheapest days to travel. That’s because consultants travel during the week, and tourists travel on the weekends. During my consulting days, I was traveling Monday morning to Thursday evenings every single week. Most tourists book flights from Friday to Sunday.
Just do the math.
That leaves Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays when airlines are struggling to fill flights, leading to cheaper tickets. If you’re flexible with your departure time, definitely look into picking one of these times.
I booked my Bangkok trip to leave on a Tuesday and come back on a Wednesday and saved a ton of money in the process.
5. Use Your Miles and Points
Over the past few years, I’ve amassed a lot of different points, miles, and statuses across airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. Back in 2016, I used 40,000 Marriott points to book a $1700/night room at the Ritz Carlton in Macau. Still by far one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in my life. On the trip back, I used 110,000 United Points to book a $23,000 First Class ticket on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
On my trips to Bangkok and Tokyo, I used some of my points and miles to offset the costs of my flights. For Bangkok, I ended up spending $400 after points, and for Tokyo, my ticket came out to under $100.
When you’re flying, always sign up for their frequent flyer program and use that number on every flight you take with them, no matter what. In addition to that, there are numerous credit cards that allow you to rack up points very quickly. My favorite is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You can earn 50,000 points fairly quickly, and even transfer their points to partner airlines, like United, to save even more money on flights.
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Finding last minute flights can be very difficult, but by using a few of these tips and tricks you’ll become a travel expert!
Any tools or tricks I’m missing from this list? Shoot me a message in the comments below.