Planning a trip a year or more in advance can be a great way to save money when you’re looking to travel. This allows you to search for deals and wait for just the right moment to book a trip and maximize savings. However, planning well in advance is not always possible. Sometimes, it’s necessary to book a trip on short notice, and this is when it’s necessary to figure out ways to mitigate the cost when flexibility is not as possible as it might usually be. Here are five tips that can help you finance last-minute trips that might become necessary.
Save Money For Emergencies
Some trips literally are emergencies. A friend or family member can get terribly sick or even die. We don’t like to think of these types of trips for funerals or hospital visits, but they can be necessary. Having a savings account with some funds set aside for unexpected travel expenses might be a solid step to take care of some of the costs that you might incur with a last-minute trip. Most personal finance gurus recommend a final emergency fund balance that equals out to between three and six months of expenses, and this amount should more than handle a quick trip.
Use Loyalty Points
Many people utilize what’s known as travel hacking to take trips around the world for pennies on the dollar. While you might not want to get that far into such a hobby, it still might be a good idea to have a stash of frequent flyer miles or hotel points to take care of a quick flight or a couple of nights in a hotel that’s run by a major chain. Some major blogs like The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets go to great lengths to help ordinary people navigate the massive amount of information that can help them travel very cheaply. There are branded credit cards that will frequently offer bonus points that can pay for nights or flights.
Use Cash Back Credit Cards
While cash back credit cards might not be on your radar for mitigating travel costs, there are some that can really work out well. Cards that offer flexible points for spending can sometimes offer credits for travel expenses. Companies pay for the benefit of taking credit cards and getting paid quickly, and the banks that issue these cards will many times give some of the swipe fees back to customers. A cash back credit card with travel reimbursements built in can be a great way to cut expenses.
There are many travel aggregator websites that will allow users to compare prices immediately. A quick search for the flight you need or the city that you intend to stay in can help you find the option that best fits into your budget. Newer options like AirBnB can also allow you to cut costs. If you’d like to bid on your airfare or lodging, you can use a site like Priceline.com that allows you to negotiate what you’re willing to pay for travel.
Get A Loan
While this option might not be the most ideal situation, last-minute travel can sometimes be an emergency and require what some might consider to be emergency measures. If you have a credit card with some available space and no savings built up, it might be best to just use the card and then try to pay it off as quickly as possible. Another option might be a car title loan.
There are many options that you can figure out for paying for last-minute travel if you’re willing to think outside the box. The money might come from an emergency fund. It might also come from more elaborate strategies like the use of a loan or some loyalty points in the programs of major travel and lodging providers. Regardless, looking at all available options can help you choose the one that’s right for you.