I sometimes get asked how do I plan my trip and would always encounter a surprising reaction when told that I am now opting for last minute trips. I totally understand where the enchantment came from, we all know that planned trips are really cheaper because of huge discounted price airline companies’ offer for early bookings, but it doesn’t just work for me.
In our company, employees are entitled of a 12 days paid vacation leave and some unpaid ones depending on the availability, these leaves must be pre-approved. These pre-approved leaves can be applied two months prior to a minimum notice time of one week while the approval process may take up to one week. This means that you might need to wait for a month close to your desired travel date to be able to secure your vacation leave. That’s for the most of the company, especially those in the BPO Industry, a lot of us have really tight schedule and have almost no idea when we can have free time until the very last minute.
Most of the cheaper fares have the travel period of six months from the date of sale, which makes the risk higher for corporate employees like me. I’ve even experienced missing at least four flights due to declined leaves or conflict of schedules and priorities. Last cancelled flight I had was our flight to Coron, Palawan which was cancelled due to strict business needs. That flight was a promo flight which cost us 1,700.00PHP each. Apart from the flight ticket we’ve also spent some bucks for our hotel reservation, which was booked two months prior.
After that cancelled flight, I never booked any promo tickets yet for myself. What we do have is a list of places we can go; these include those places we can reach by land travels and those that needs air transports. I visualize a date and will have plan A (plane-ride away) and B (Bus-ride away).
When we get the budget, we can spend, we file our leaves and check plane tickets right after its approval then we start planning from there. Most of the time as I’ve noticed that promo seats are still available months prior to the travel dates unless its peak season (April-May and during holidays). The price is quite far if you are going to base it on the base fare, but the total amount are pretty much close (500.00-700.00 difference). For example a flight to Cebu for 699.00 seat sale six months ago may still have some available seats at 1,299.00 which has 600.00 difference per way and 1,200.00 for a two way ticket. Computing it with admin fees, other charges and tax would pretty much gives you the same difference because these charges were based on the original base fare and not the discounted ones.
So do I still love seat sales?? Of course, yes, I’d love it for my flights for holiday seasons and summer where fares could go extremely expensive, for some Weekender trips and planned international trips. Otherwise, I'd always go for the book-and-run way.
Here are some perks I enjoyed that make last minute travelling works for a corporate employee like me.
Money saver: I’d rather pay a thousand higher for a sure flight than pay twice for rebooking and worst just missing a paid ticket.
Stress free: There’s nothing more stressful than knowing that the leave you filed for your most awaited flight which you’ve purchased a year ago has been declined. Hong Kong trip with my sisters almost got cancelled weeks before our flight! :S
Flexibility – last minute backpacking gives you the flexibility to adjust based on current mood, cravings and or weather. Six months ago you may feel like going to the mountains and yet after that you realized that you became too busy and too tired to do so and all you want for that day is a relaxing time at the beach.The Plan – Climb Mt. Pulag. What actually happen – Lazed at the beach of Talipanan.
Room for discovery – since you don’t limit the planning on the places where there are cheap flights, you get to discover places near you which are most of the times are really exciting and surprising. My Daranak Falls and Calinawan Cave adventure was literally a last minute trip.
No Panic Booking – not sure for the others, but I know a lot who’ve reaped their credits on panic booking. Although this is very exciting and favorable for the rich-kids and those digital nomads, this could be extremely problematic for most of the regular corporate employees as your trips will always require budget, it will mean unplanned and impulsive spending after another.
To sum it up, things that are economical for you today could be something that is extremely unpractical in a few months or so after considering the risks and obstacle. If you feel that you can make the trip scheduled months away, then it won’t hurt to grab those price promotions but if you fall under the group of busy people with very tight and unpredictable schedule then don’t hold back on deciding to go traveling on the last couple of days. ;)