Let’s Go! Last-minute Holiday Travel Hacks

It happens at the end of every year: thoughts of last minute getaways fill your head after twelve months of hard work, successes, losses, and holiday planning. Is it too late to wrap up the year on a white sand beach, cocktail in hand, or your favorite bustling city with rooftop views? The short answer is no. And you don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to travel—even if it’s a last minute New Year’s Eve trip. There are a number of hacks that can serve you well year-round. With a little patience, access to the right sites, and good old fashioned luck of the draw, your dream getaway could be reality.

From getting a coveted seat at a restaurant, knowing how to book flight combo deals to the best car rental coupons, here are 10 hacks that are going to make your travel plan much easier.

  1. Buy two one-way tickets

Sometimes buying two one-way tickets vs. a roundtrip can mean big savings. There are a number of low cost airline carriers like Norwegian and JetBlue that offer incredible one-way sale deals. Check out KAYAK’s Flight Hacker Guide website for even more tips.

  1. Consider holiday reward programs

Save major bucks by checking out holiday rewards programs. Retailers, hotels and airlines offer major bonuses this time of year. For example,  Sephora offers it Beauty Insider members a yearly holiday sale and additional discount at checkout.

  1. Swap air for sea

Believe it or not, last minute cruises are a great sweet spot to save and travel. Some Trans-Atlantic cruises offer last minute sales with deep discounts. Last year, for example, you could book a cruise from Miami to Barcelona for just $299.

  1. Subscribe to airfare bargain sites.

If there’s one subscription worth giving up your email for, it’s to websites that alert you to last minute flight deals. Sites like The Flight Deal, Secret Flying and Scott’s Travel have incredible, last minute sale alerts, even on holidays.  

  1. Take advantage of alternatives to hotels.

Hotels, like airlines, are notorious for hiking up prices during the holidays for travelers. If you’re looking for accommodations, don’t forget that AirBnB, HomeAway, and even crashing with a friend are great alternatives. You’d be surprised of what a Facebook status asking if people living in a certain city recommend can lead to.

  1. Get city tourist cards.

If you love sightseeing while traveling, look into buying a city tourist card, which offers major discounts and even free access to numerous attractions and transportation. The Paris museum card, for example, can help you save up to $80.

  1. Take a redeye to avoid holiday rush in the airport.

Save not only dollars but your peace of mind by opting for redeye flights. Not only do you avoid the hordes of crowds in the airport, but also can save a few dollars by opting out of peak morning hours.

  1. Familiarize yourself with third-party hotel discounts.

Waiting until the night before or even day of a hotel stay can equal great savings. Sites like Hotel Tonight and Last Minute are great for city hotels. Another trick of the trade: play both sides and call the hotel mentioning you’ve found a better deal with a third party. They might offer you the same deal and even throw in some perks.

  1. Look into car-sharing.

Avoid the high costs of renting a car by joining a car-sharing community like ZipCar or Maven. These companies allow you to rent a car last minute at various locations in a city.

  1. Shhh. Close that browser. Keep your travel plans on the low by making sure you enable your private browsing. Travel sites track visits and will sometimes raise the price because you’ve visited before.

BONUS: Looking to score a last minute reservation at a coveted restaurant? Rezhound.com alerts you by email or text when a table opens on the date you choose.