Procrastinators, fear not. There’s still time to plan an excellent adventure this season.

6 Secret Ways to Find Cheap Flights

Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images

Happy young afro american woman using digital tablet sitting on bed packing summer suitcase - Travel, booking and vacation concept

Knowing how to find cheap last-minute flights is a bit of a game of roulette. While stats show that the best rates on flights come from booking more than 30 days in advance, sometimes spontaneity is unavoidable. But the experience of booking a last-minute trip should be exciting, not stressful. And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Here are some tips to get the best deals this season, even on short notice.

1. Book Mid-Week Flights

Tracking which days of the week to book in order to score the lowest fare can be a full-time job itself. Booking on specific days is a bit of a moving target, as airlines are always changing their prices based on supply and demand. Generally though, the best days to fly are midweek on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you can’t swing that, Saturdays and Mondays are the next cheapest. Sundays are generally the most expensive days to fly.

Sitthiphong/Getty Images

2. Use a Travel Expert

Justin Walter, a travel host and producer with over 15 years of experience in the industry, recently started working with international credit card consulting company 3byC to analyze his spending habits, creating a tailor-made credit-card strategy to maximize earning points and miles.

More Videos From Sunset

“I’ve earned nearly 400,000 points by strategically opening up specific credit cards with sign-up bonuses including but not limited to Capital One Venture X, Citi Premier, and AMEX Gold cards, and then using each card for specific types of spending that I am already doing to maximize earning points,” he says.

3. Opt for Points Transfer

While cash is always tempting, when it comes to most credit-card rewards programs, the most bang for your buck doesn’t come from trading points for cash. There are various options to cash in on points including “pay with points,” “travel,” and “point transfer”—by far, the best option is point transfer.

“3byC showed me how a business-class flight from New York to Qatar could be purchased by points three different ways,” say Walter. “Paying with points cost 1.6 million points, using the travel portal cost over 800,000 points, and using point transfer cost around 70,000 points. My mind was blown by how important it is to know the tricks of redeeming points.”

Another great option for folks looking to learn the points game is a program like 10xTravel.

4. Be Flexible

By using Skyscanner’s “Go Anywhere” function, you can see which flights are cheapest from your point of embarkation, giving a real sense of adventure to your next trip. There’s also a “whole month” function on the site, where you can see when the cheapest time is within a month to travel.

“One of my favorite things to do is put in my travel dates, departure airport, and set my destination to ‘everywhere’ in the search,” says Walter. “The app then shows users flights in order from cheapest to most expensive. If you’re open to where you want to go, this is one of the best methods to sourcing cheap, affordable, and last-minute flights. Another company that I recommend is Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights). Signing up for their newsletter gives you travel deals to your email inboxes daily.”

Steve Smith/Getty Images

5. Take the Red-Eye

Perhaps it might not come as much of a surprise, but flying off-peak hours can result in some serious savings. Just invest in a good eye mask, bring some melatonin, and allow for a buffer day if possible to accommodate for any jet lag or exhaustion.

6. Break up Your Booking

Booking two one-way fares rather than a traditional round-trip can result in some serious savings. The ways of doing this are varied, either by choosing different airlines for each leg of your journey, combining a points redemption with a cash fare, or switching up which airport you fly into and depart from. Don’t be afraid of mixing and matching to find a rate that’s right for you.

Read the Current Issue Here!

Get one year of Sunset—and all kinds of bonuses—for just $24.95. Subscribe now!

Keep Reading: