How to Get the Most Bang for Your Travel Buck With Flash Sales

View from plane window

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We've all seen those emails: the all-caps shout about the huge, can't-miss deal, only available for 48 hours. It may seem too good to be true, but when it comes to travel flash sales, it actually isn’t.

A flash sale is a marketing tactic but it also happens to be a great opportunity for those who are able to pounce on a deal quickly. If you don't have a place in mind for your next vacation, or have a flexible enough schedule to take off on short notice, you'll be inspired by luxurious choices all over the world.

How to Fly – in a Flash

In-the-moment airline deals can turn into a lucky day for a consumer who pays attention. For example, JetBlue ran a sale for $32 tickets out of New York City for 32 minutes while it was 32 degrees out. While something like this is rare, it illustrates the benefits of keeping track of even the shortest-term airline promotions with such carriers as Virgin America and Spirit.

How can you find out about these great deals? Often, they're only available on the airlines' websites, in the form of promo code deals and special offers, and only accessible by signing up for alerts and emails directly from the airlines. A site such as Airfarewatchdog can make the search to signup and save with favorite carriers a bit easier.

Flash Sales to Boost Points and Miles

Many loyalty programs allow their members to buy points or miles outright – the perfect solution if you have a reward in mind but are short a few thousand points or miles. Even better: Hilton HHonors, IHG Rewards Club, and Club Carlson, among others, are known to offer flash promotions on their points and miles. These short-term offers make up for their brief duration with value, often awarding up to 100% more points or miles on your purchase, or hefty discounts of up to 50% off.

These promos are often announced exclusively on social media, so following your favorite programs on Facebook and Twitter will keep you up to date on the latest offers – and always ready with the right amount of points to book your next award trip.

Hotels and Getaways for Less

Whether you're booking last minute or planning a summer sojourn months in advance, a slew of flash-sale travel sites can help you save up to 70 percent at some very glamorous venues. With 40 different flash sales running at a time, Secret Escapes may offer anything from a 72-hour sale on a getaway to a beach holiday in Sardinia or a stay at a castle in Cheshire.

Stayful offers amazing rates on smaller, more intimate boutique hotels in coveted places like Charleston, New Orleans, and New York City - then lets you make a counteroffer. Other great sites to check out for flash sales and other limited-time travel deals include Groupon Getaways, Jetsetter, Living Social Escapes, TripAlertz, and Vacationist. Keep in mind that you may have to provide your email address to access these “exclusive” deal sites.

Be a Savings-Savvy Traveler​​

While many great deals are seasonally based (Black Friday and Cyber Monday can yield amazing travel deals), they can become available at any time of the year. Sign up for newsletters and fare alerts, join the flash sale sites that work best for you, and stay on top of your programs' social media.

And as always, make sure to use your points- or miles-earning credit card to pay for your travel purchases, whatever fabulous flash deal you score. Happy hunting!