Posted: 4:14 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012

7 ways to save money on last-minute travel


7 ways to save money on last-minute travel photo
7 ways to save money on last-minute travel

By Kidventurous

I can't tell you how many times I've dragged my feet longer than I should to purchase airline tickets and set up room reservations. As I've learned again and again, waiting can be very expensive, but it doesn't need to be. Even as a last-minute traveler, there are still many ways to save if you know what to do and where to go. Take a look: 

Sign Up for Airfare Alerts: Once you know travel is in your future, sign up for free fare alerts on sites like Enter your route and you'll receive emails when ticket prices drop. Even if you aren't taking the time to actively seek out fares, at least you know someone is. Sign up with your preferred airlines too for sale alerts and even coupon codes. 

Know the Best Days to Fly: You don't need a crystal ball, just head to Priceline's Best Days to Fly calendar, especially if holiday travel is on your mind. The color-coded calendar lists out good days and best days in terms of travel discounts. 

Be Flexible with Travel Dates: You've probably heard this over and over again, but it's true. If you want to fly the day before Thanksgiving and return the Sunday after the holiday, for example, you won't find any deals. Everyone wants to fly these days, so demand is high. However, if you can be flexible with your travel days, the deals will be yours. 

Look Beyond the Travel Search Engines: Check out the prices on Kayak and Orbitz, but then find out what other airlines fly into your destination airport to make sure you haven't overlooked any carriers.Southwest, most notably, is not included in the travel aggregator sites, so you'll need to search their website directly for fares. 

Hit Daily Deal Sites: If you need to find a hotel room, head to GrouponLivingSocial and Bloomspot to get on their daily mailing lists. All three offer loads of discounts at hotels and resorts, so sign up early and hopefully a hotel deal for your destination will pop up soon. 

Get Serious About Social Media: More and more, airlines are using Twitter and Facebook to let their followers know about limited-time fare sales. For example, Jet Blue tweets out super-low, last-minute fares from @JetBlueCheeps every Tuesday. Virgin America and Spirit Airlines have also been tweeting out fare alerts, so start following these airlines now. 

Grab the Mobile Apps: If you've already arrived in a new city and need a room, then you need the right apps on your phone. The free Hotel Tonight app for iPhone shares new hotel deals at noon each day for dozens and dozens of cities. I also like the Priceline Negotiator app with Tonight-Only Deals, making it easy to book a discounted room while on-the-go.

For even more tips on saving on airfares, be sure to check out my two recent posts:  7 Ways to Find the Best Holiday Airfares and Saving Money: 6 Airlines to Follow on Twitter.

Erin Gifford is guest writer and a mother of four who shares family travel advice on her blog,Kidventurous, which was selected as the Best Family Travel blog by Parents magazine. Follow her onFacebook and Twitter.


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