10 Last-minute travel hacks from the experts
Q. How can credit card points lead to discounts?
A. Points and miles are best used on hotels and flights. Compare these to the price of the same ticket to ensure you’re getting the best value from your points. It can also be great value to buy a cash ticket and use your points to upgrade.
Q. What one thing must you never forget when booking a last-minute trip?
A. Do not forget to buy comprehensive travel insurance so you’re fully protected wherever you go. Be aware that travel insurance bought through an airline, may be for flight protection only.
Q. How can last-minute travellers ensure they are booking safely with a certain operator?
A. If prices seem too good to be true, lower than on major websites, and with a company you’ve never heard of, then it’s one to avoid. It’s beneficial to book travel on a credit card, not only to ensure you earn points, but also because you will be protected in case of any issues, such as the company going bust or not delivering on what you thought you had bought. Ensuring you have comprehensive insurance in place is also key.
Q. Where are the best places to book travel last minute?
When booking your flight, I’d recommend going directly through the airline when booking a cash ticket rather than opting to use a third-party site. You can also use The Points Guy valuations guide to work out what value you are getting from your miles. This means you can compare them to see what they’re worth before using against the equivalent cash prices.
Q. Can you get better deals by contacting hotels directly?
Some hotels offer best-price guarantees when booking directly, so you may be able to get the best price this way. Hotel chains may let you earn points, if you book directly with them. Online travel agents, however, may offer discount codes, free nights, or air mile-earning opportunities by clicking through to the sites from airline shopping portals.
Q. What apps and websites do you recommend for finding the best last-minute deals on flights and accommodation?
The Points Guy UK! We scour the internet to source the best deals for flights. It’s also useful to sign up for newsletters from your favourite airlines so you can hear about deals and points offers early. Another good one is ExpertFlyer – set an alert for award tickets on flights and you’ll get an email alert to snatch your flight before anyone else does.
Q. What are the best times of the day to book?
Deals and cheap fares can pop up and disappear at any time. Flexibility both in terms of when to make a booking and when to travel will give the best chance of nabbing the very best deals.
Q. What compromises might travellers have to make in order to book last minute?
There’s a risk that you won’t be able to fly from your preferred airport and if you’re travelling in a large group you may not be able to sit together. Sometimes you get lucky and it all falls into place, but flexibility and an open mind will help you enjoy your trip.
Q. How can travellers avoid being ripped off?
Check the availability of discount codes and sales on sites to ensure you are getting the best price. Also, familiarise yourself with the airline’s policies to avoid being charged a large fee just because you weren’t aware of the protocol. Low-cost airlines charge fees to print a boarding pass at check-in.
Q. What are the best days to travel on?
When booking long-haul flights with multiple airlines, a Saturday night stay is key for unlocking the cheapest fares, so always try adding one to your ticket to see how much you might save. Most airlines have a rule for their cheap fares that you need to stay in the destination over a Saturday night. You’ll find a ticket to New York from Monday to Saturday is usually much more expensive than one from Monday to Sunday.