Spring Break happens in March for a reason: actual Springtime—the kind with warm days and chirping birds—remains a distant thought, and rain-slash-snow storms still loom. Before you jump aboard the pineapple express in a mai tai-induced spending frenzy, hold on to your credit card because we’ve done some last-minute legwork for you assembling the best apps and top tips for booking a cheap (and easy) trip at the 11th hour. Bye bye March, hello tropics!
Insider Tip: Plane seats and hotel rooms are perishable, meaning if they aren’t booked—even at a discount—the travel company loses an opportunity to make money, hence last-minute booking deals (yes, they still exist).
Last-Minute Travel Booking Apps
Hotel Tonight: Best for securing day-of hotels
Let’s say you throw caution to the wind and hit the road. Once at your destination, Hotel Tonight is your best bet for securing a hotel at a discounted rate. In fact, the deals are so good, the staff are working on them right until the second they are posted at noon local time. Offering hotels from hip to luxe to basic in major cities across the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, the booking process is so simple, it’s scary, all you have to do is enter your credit card and voila. At the time of writing, we found rooms in Vegas from $35, Palm Springs from $74, and Miami from $90.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Insider Tip: if you want to stay more than one day, some hotels offer up to five nights at the discounted price. Cha-ching, indeed!
Jetsetter—Best for travel flash sales
If you want a more curated hotel list at your fingertips—think Sugar Ridge in Antigua or a five-star Maui mystery hotel—look no further than the sleek and oh-so-travel-tempting Jetsetter app. Featuring a rotating roster of five-day flash sales (many of which you can book as soon as tomorrow) for swanky properties worldwide, Jetsetter helps you decide where you’d like to go… tomorrow.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and online.
Kayak: Best for flights
Kayak wins in the flight category because it is easy to use, and has the most filtering and sorting options to find the cheapest fare whether you fancy a direct or a one-stop flight in economy, business, or first class. The app is almost easier to use than the website, making that March getaway even more palatable!
Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire, and online.
Best Practices for Last-Minute Bookings
1. Make it easy; don’t book a complicated stay and multi-flight itinerary. Try and stick to direct flights and one hotel.
2. If you want to hit the ground running, sojourning at a spot you’ve already visited eliminates lost time (i.e. more time for umbrella drinks by the sea).
3. Pack a carry-on to maximize your precious time on the ground. Suddenly, you don’t have to wait for your bags at the airport, rely on a porter, or spend an hour packing (and unpacking) your entire resort-wear collection.
4. If you’re a discount vacation hound who can muster the discipline to wait a few weeks, consider hitting up sunny destinations in the Caribbean or Hawaii in mid-April, which coincides with the start of shoulder season.
Photo credit: Mexico resort via Shutterstock