There are certain times of the year where it seems like everyone is booking a flight to get the heck out of dodge, or wherever it is they call home. The holiday season is notorious for that, with loads of people looking to travel home for the holidays.
However, the end of the year also happens to be one of the more stressful times as you try to tidy up all of your loose ends before the festivities begin. Though holiday travel is obviously important, it's easy to put off purchasing that plane ticket because you've got other things on your mind.
Unfortunately, when you do that, you run the risk of not getting the flight you need or worse — paying an exorbitant amount of money for a ticket. Both of these are no bueno. Luckily, with a little know-how and elbow grease, you can get to your desired destination and at a good price too, even if you book last minute. Here's how.
1. Be flexible
The first thing you need to do before you do any sort of research is take a deep breath and get a reality check. Because you're booking last minute, you have to realize that you may not get the absolutely most perfect flight or price ever. Those have probably been booked already. The people that book last-minute flights are the ones that have an open mind and are flexible on some of the details of the trip, such as the airport they fly out of, the duration of the trip and the time of the flight. For example, you'll probably be able to save money if you fly out on an off-peak day, like a Monday or Tuesday, or really early in the morning or late at night.
2. Travel alone
It sounds kind of sad and may not work with your travel plans 100 percent, but booking an inexpensive flight will be so much easier if you're only searching for one ticket. You'll avoid all of the hassle, not to mention the near impossibility, of coordinating everyone's schedules and preferences and also finding seats together. If you need a last-minute ticket, flying solo is really the only way to go.
3. Price-comparison websites are your friend
As I'm sure you're well aware, pretty much everyone books travel accommodations online these days, and one of the best ways to do that is through price-comparison websites, such as Hotwire, Orbitz and Expedia. These websites search across the vast ocean that is airline and travel websites, combing through all of the available plane tickets to find the best deal for you. Personally, I think Kayak is one of the better ones simply because of how comprehensive it is. Priceline's Inside Track tool is also handy for being in the know about deals. It tells you how much you'll save by buying a ticket today, and you can even sign up to receive alerts for when there's a price drop on a ticket to your destination. TravelPirates also specializes in advertising deals for cheap, last-minue flights.
4. Look into vacation packages
While you're on those price-comparison websites, you might want to take a look at the vacation packages they offer, such as flight plus hotel combos. It's sometimes cheaper than buying just a plane ticket a la carte if you're only staying at your destination for a night or two, and who doesn't like staying in hotels?
5. Go straight to the source
You can definitely find great deals through these price-comparison websites. However, don't forget about the airlines themselves. Sure, it takes a lot more legwork, but it could be worth it if you find a great deal. Follow the official social media accounts of airlines to keep up with new deals. Be sure to check out the airlines' websites on Tuesdays at around 3 p.m. EST, which is when they release cheap flights in order to match other airlines' prices. Don't forget that you can even call (gasp!) the airline to see if they have any last-minute flights available if you're really in a pinch.