How to Save on Last-Minute Travel

Procrastinators, take heart. You can make your escape as soon as this weekend—without blowing your bank account. Here’s how.

  • Susan Stellin

Hit the road (on the cheap). If booking a plane ticket is too pricey, try taking the bus. (Yes, you heard us right.) New “premium” coach companies, like Megabus.com and BoltBus (boltbus.com), combine low prices with amenities such as onboard Wi-Fi. Travelers can land fares for as low as $1 (!) for a one-way ticket from New York City to Boston or Washington, D.C., though $15 to $20 is the average.

Embrace the new. Recently opened hotels typically reduce their rates to attract customers. Check out Hotelchatter.com, a daily webzine, for information on the latest bargains.

Go where the deals take you. Want to take off somewhere—really, anywhere—next weekend? Go to farecompare.com/dealfinder (a ticketing and travel-advice site) and choose your departure city, the month, and how much you want to spend. The site will show you where you can fly in that price range. A couple of hints: For the biggest savings, leave on a Saturday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. And do your booking midweek. Airlines often announce sales Tuesday morning that must be reserved by Thursday.

Search for vacancies. Cruise lines insist on being solidly booked before setting sail, so they usually offer steep discounts (as much as 60 percent off) starting as early as three months before the departure date and up until two weeks before sailing. Check lastminutecruises.com for specials.