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Contrary to the advanced planning advice most people are used to, there can be benefits to impulse travel or waiting until the last second to finalize a trip. Last-minute travel deals can be the key to cutting costs no matter where you’re headed.
The internet is filled with discounts for adventurous travelers who are ready to pack up and go. Whether it’s a flight for a spontaneous solo trip or an impromptu road trip to clear your head, you’ll find all the best tips and tricks for scoring these affordable travel accommodations.
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Best for Last-Minute Travel Deals
One site all last-minute travelers should bookmark is Booking.com. The platform has it all, including budget-friendly rates on Airbnbs, boutique hotels, flights and more. Plus, if you sign up for the email list, you can take advantage of even lower “Secret Deals” as a subscriber.
Beyond these benefits, the most useful feature is Booking.com’s “free cancellation, no prepayment” policy. Any customer who comes across a good price can lock it in for purchase until 24 hours before arrival (sometimes longer depending on the hotel) with the option of canceling if you find something better. Don’t forget to also sign up for the free Genius loyalty program, which provides an up to 20% base-rate discount, complimentary breakfast and more.
Best for Last-Minute Hotel Deals
Not knowing where you’re staying for the night can be nerve-racking, but the potential of paying less might make it less stressful. HotelTonight is focused on bringing people same-day discounts. You’ll be able to reserve multi-night stays, but the closer you make your reservation to your check-in date, the greater the savings.
While some users have seen prices marked down as much as 70%, it's more typical to save around 25%. When you log on to the site, keep an out for the Daily Drop feature that guarantees hotels for a deep discount. The only caveat is that you have to decide within a 15-minute time window if you want to go through with it.
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Best for All-Inclusive Travel Deals
Priceline is the place for steals on last-minute all-inclusive travel deals and vacations. It’s a catch-all travel site with deals on everything, including the ability to filter by all-inclusive properties. And if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, Priceline is even more useful since it can basically act as your virtual travel planner.
In addition to picking a hotel, you can select your flight and rental car if you need, all in one go. The best part is, through Priceline’s Bundle + Save program, the more last-minute shopping you do on the site, the more you’ll save.
Best for Hotel Loyalty Rewards
For some of the absolute best last-minute hotel deals, you can count on Hotels.com. The site has a solid last-minute deals selection that includes five-star hotels and luxury suites, often at a major discount. Additionally, it pays to be loyal. Hotels.com's free One Key program is free to join and users can earn various rewards, including 2% back on all eligible purchases, which includes spending on hotels, car rentals, activities, cruises and more.
Best for Same-Day Hotel Bookings
When it comes to a next-level, last-minute hotel app, One Night Standard is a must. It makes getting a nice room for the night a breeze. Similar to HotelTonight, it’s designed for same-day bookings, but the differences are price point and location. One Night Standard is only available in certain cities around the U.S., and you’ll get a carefully curated list of higher-priced, trendier options.
Not to worry, just because One Night’s hotels are fancier, it doesn’t mean the discounts aren’t there. You’ll still be able to enjoy the low, last-minute rates.
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Tip: Go On an Unplanned Cruise and Spend Less
A pro tip on how to find cheap last-minute travel deals is by opting for an impulsive cruise. Unlike airfare, cruise prices are known to drop as the sail date approaches. The premium staterooms may be taken, but cruise lines typically sell lower-tier accommodations for less to fill up the ship.
Keep an eye out for these deals around “shoulder season,” which is basically the off-season for most destinations between September through November. A few sites to look at are Cruise.com, Cruises.com, Expedia and even Costco.
Make sure you don’t miss out on any other cheap last-minute travel deals by setting a custom Deal Alert. We’ll let you know when new discounts on flights, hotels, cruises and car rentals hit our forums. Additionally, be sure to browse current discounts on our Travel Deals page.