The vacation-planning process is seriously so much fun, including choosing your destination, accommodations, and sightseeing—the options are endless, and it gives you something to look forward to in the humdrum of everyday life. But sometimes you need to book a journey on the fly—a best friend’s engagement, a romantic getaway, or even an Eat, Pray, Love journey—which is why it’s crucial to know where to score last-minute airfare deals. The thing is, we support fulfilling your wanderlust, but we think it’s better to do so without dropping your rent (or mortgage) money on a plane ticket.
Thankfully, there are websites that have been created for the exact purpose of eleventh-hour travel so you don’t have to go from page to page to find deals. We also found out that if you’re willing to pay a fee, you can hire a flight expert to find you personalized deals (how do we get that job?). So the next time you’re hemming and hawing about taking a last-minute trip, check out the below insider-approved sites to get your travel on without breaking the bank.
When You Want to Book on Mobile
Are you familiar with the Hopper app that tracks flights you want to take and texts you when to buy them? Well, the gang is back at it with their last-minute app and website called GTFO (Get the Flight Out). Simply plug in your home airport, and you’ll get a massive selection of places to visit within the next 24 hours (all arranged by price, of course). Cool destinations include Quito, Equador; Oslo, Norway; Manila, Spain; and Budapest, Hungary. Side note: You can also subscribe to the daily deals emails to stay ahead of the travel curve.
When You Don't Know Where to Go
This budget-friendly flight website guarantees that you can save up to 80% on flights all over the world. Its specialists scour the web for error fares—like New York to Nairobi, Kenya, for under $400—which are primarily a result of human error and currency conversions that went wrong. The best part is that the site keeps everything up-to-date when flights sell out. Plus, you can choose from trending fares, or you can search by your departure and arrival city. (If you’re up for some adventure, you can put “anywhere” as your destination and see where fate takes you.)
When You Want More Than a Flight
LAST MINUTE TRAVEL
With Last Minute Travel, you not only get to book your flight a few weeks out, but you’ll also save on hotels, cruises, cars, and activities (it’s where you go for a package deal). To be totally up-front, in order to get the best fares, you have to pay a $50 annual membership fee. But if you don’t end up saving that much over the course of the year, the website will give you a travel voucher in that amount (it’s a win-win, right?). Perhaps the biggest perk is that becoming a member also gives you access to a 24/7 travel expert for all your last-minute planning needs.
Cost: $50 membership fee per year
When You Want a Ton of Options
Skyscanner is a website that aggregates all the best last-minute travel deals, you just don’t book through them directly. The actual number of flights you can browse is impressive, which is likely why more than 60 million people use the search engine each month. The home page has a section that allows you to get ideas about how to spend your trip (for example, a Washington, D.C., getaway becomes easier to plan after you read about the top 10 things to do on your visit).
When You Want Special Attention
The pros at Flystein call themselves “flight hackers”—pretty clever, right? Combined, the “hackers” have visited more than 100 countries around the world and specialize in premier flights (aka long-distance, business, and even first-class). Although there aren’t any membership fees, you pay for services à la carte (although they’re free if you can find a better deal elsewhere). Everything about this company is high-tech, from being assigned a specific “flight hacker” to a built-in chat option and even voice support if your itinerary is a little bit tricky. We like the personalized aspect in which you get to describe your trip, your flexibility in dates, and your stopover preferences.
Cost: Varies by search.
Time for Take-Off
Where do you go to find the best last-minute airfare deals? Tell us in the comments.