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How to Book a Last-Minute Trip to the USA

21st-century technology has created a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to last-minute travel, and destinations such as the USA, which would previously have required a lengthy visa application process, advance flight booking and careful trip planning, are now accessible at a moment’s notice. With the possibility of ordering your ESTA visa waiver online, an extensive list of online resources to find the cheapest last-minute tickets and a never-ending supply of quirky places to stay on Airbnb and similar websites, high-quality last-minute trips to the USA have never been more affordable:

Finding cheap last-minute airline tickets

If you don’t have fixed dates on which you have to travel, you may be able to find great flight deals to the USA, even at the last minute. The key, according to cheap flight-guru Jack Sheldon, is double-checking your options across several booking websites, keeping in mind that some of the cheapest flights may not depart from the airport nearest to you. You can sign up for Sheldon’s newsletter, which will keep you updated on the best deals departing from the UK (he recently listed a 199 GBP return from London-Los Angeles!).

Get your ESTA

For touristic, business and study-related travel under 90 days, UK citizens can apply for an ESTA under the visa waiver programme, rather than having to apply for a visa. Most ESTA applications are processed within minutes, though the ESTA processing can take up to 72 hours. Your ESTA will remain valid for two years (as long as the passport on which you applied remains valid during this time), so you can always request your ESTA further in advance. To make sure nothing goes wrong, consider using a reputable online agency such as Application ESTA. Experienced agents will check your application before it is sent to ensure that nothing is missing or incorrect, helping you to avoid potentially costly problems later.

Use online resources to find accommodation with a local flavour

For the 21st-century traveller, unappealing and pricy hotels are almost a thing of the past.

Accommodation is a real part of your travel experience, and doesn’t need to cut too deeply into your budget, even at the last minute. Airbnb and Couchsurfing are two great platforms on which to find accommodation with a local flavour without requiring you to book far in advance. For Airbnb and similar accommodation websites, make sure to contact several potential hosts to sound out your options and prices. Many Airbnb hosts will happily lower their rate for last-minute bookings if their alternative is no bookings at all, so keep in mind that you may find a great deal at the last minute if you’re willing to put in some effort.

For travellers willing to invest a bit of time and effort into researching cheap flights and value-for-money accommodation, booking trips at the last minute doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. With the option of a last-minute ESTA, the USA, unlikely as it may seem, is high up on the list of perfect last-minute travel destinations!