There’s so much good advice out there about the perfect time to buy airline tickets, how to plan the perfect vacation and all of that. Unfortunately, life is not perfect and unexpected turns are around every corner. For those living in the real world, last minute travel is a reality and there are a few ways which you can make it less painful. Here are the best tips to save money on last minute travel…

Book Two One Way Tickets…

Need to leave tomorrow or sometime really soon? The ticket for tomorrow is likely the most expensive part, which is really going to be painful on the wallet. Rather than purchasing a round trip at the highest penalty rate, it can in some instances work out cheaper to book the one way for tomorrow’s flight and book separately for the return. Again, even if you only have enough miles for a one way, it’s worth searching to see if you can book just tomorrow’s ticket using miles.

Experiment With Hidden City Ticketing…

For reasons which are useless to us travelers, airlines often play very strange games with their fares. Quite often, tickets to a smaller city with travel through a major hub are cheaper than just booking a ticket to the hub itself, which you’d pass through. If I wanted to go from New York to Atlanta, I may save a ton of money buying a ticket from New York to anywhere else in the country, if the connection to “anywhere else” passes through Atlanta. You can only book one way tickets using this trick, but it can save a fortune. You just hop off, provided you don’t have checked luggage, which adds expense anyway…

Miles Can Save You…

Before you purchase a last minute ticket with cash, exhaust your opportunities to use miles. It’s never too late to start earning miles and there are so many reasons why. Most airlines require only a fixed number of points between two cities, regardless of the price of a ticket. So, if a last minute ticket from New York to Washington DC would run you $800 round trip, you may be able to use just 15,000 miles round trip. A drop in the bucket in miles, for major savings in cash. 

Look At Alternate Airports For Better Pricing…

People get locked in to routines and that can be a bad thing in travel. When searching, you want to cast as wide of a net as possible covering all airports in your area, rather than just searching from one airport. For example, if you live in London, it’s not at all uncommon for someone to simply enter “LHR” in the search menu. By doing so, you’re missing out on the potential for cheaper flights from four other London airports. Always enter vague cities when possible rather than specific airports such as NYC (New York City) instead of just JFK, or PAR (Paris) instead of CDG. 

Grab A Crazy Flight Deal You Won’t Find By Searching…

There are so many ridiculously awesome resources for cheap flights out there. Before turning in your miles or credit card details for an expensive ticket, be sure to browse Secret Flying, The Flight Deal and AirFareWatchDog to see if what you’re looking for (even last minute) happens to be one of the wild and wacky deals that pop up. You never know…