Summer has arrived and that means that the summer travel season is in full swing. However, costs for everything, including travel have certainly increased over the past few years and that can put a real damper on how far and how often you may be able to travel. Fear not. There are some ways that you can save money on your summer travel this year.
Consider a Less Popular Destination
Just because a destination isn’t listed as a “top” travel spot doesn’t mean that it isn’t a fabulous place to spend your vacation time. Choosing a less popular destination usually means smaller crowds, and that lodging, food, fuel, and activities will cost less than they would at a more popular location.
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Consider Alternative Housing
Hotels, motels, and resorts are great, but that doesn’t mean that they are always the most economical choice when it comes to housing on the road. There are lots of other travel accommodations available to you now like campgrounds with cabin rentals or glamping options, Airbnbs, condos, and even hostels.
Some of these options can be a lot more economical, allow you more privacy and space, and give you the ability to cook most of your meals which can help you to save even more money.
Have Flexible Dates
The more flexible you can be with scheduling the dates of your travel, the more likely you are to get the best deal. Sometimes just planning your trip a week or even a few days earlier or later can save you a considerable amount of money if it is a less popular travel time.
The last two weeks in August and dates in September are often less expensive because many schools are already back in session, making it a less-than-ideal time for families with kids to travel.
Extending your trip by a day or two or shortening it can also help you to save money on your trip. Obviously staying one less night will save you on accommodations, but lengthening your trip by a day or more may also save you on the cost of a room or house by getting you a lower nightly rate.
Travel During the Week
Just about everyone wants to arrange their travel plans over a weekend and that means that the prices are going to be higher than they might be during the week. You can get better rates on everything from flights to accommodations if you are willing to start your trip on a Sunday and end it on a Thursday.
Use Price Monitoring Tools
There are lots of price monitoring tools available to use now that can help you to get the very best rates on all of your travel needs. The great thing about these tools is that you don’t have to use just one, you can use several of them to make sure that you are really getting the best deal for your money.
When using comparison and monitoring tools make sure that you check the prices on the mobile app in addition to their websites. Some tools offer a lower rate for accommodations and flights on their mobile apps that you won’t find on their website.
Chances are you don’t have time to search for the best deals on tools all day long, but with deal alerts, you won’t have to. Just put in your destination and dates and let the price finder tools do the rest for you.
Check Out Cancellation Policies
Before making your reservations for your hotel, airfare, or rental car be sure to check into the cancellation policy. Most, if not all airlines will allow you to cancel with just 24 hours notice, and the majority of hotels will allow you to cancel with anywhere from 24 to 72 hours notice.
This means that you can go ahead and book what looks to be a great deal for your flight or accommodations while you continue to look for great deals. If you find a better deal, snap it up and make sure that you cancel your prior reservations.
Watch Out For Hidden Fees
When you are booking your travel plans be aware that some hotels, rental car agencies, and airlines have a variety of different fees that can be added to your overall price. These fees should be disclosed on the website or contract, but you may be able to avoid them altogether if you know to look for them in the first place.
Some examples of hidden fees that you might want to watch for are extra driver fees or alternative drop-off fees for a rental car. Seat picking fees, entertainment fees, and boarding pass printing are just a few of the fees you want to watch out for with your airline. For hotels, be on the lookout for parking, extra person, Wi-fi, safe, and hospitality tax fees.
Download a Gas Price App
If you are going to be driving to your destination, make sure that you download a gas price tracking app before you leave home. These apps can help you to find fuel at the best price on fuel near your current location.
Two examples of these gas price apps are GasBuddy and GasPriceWatch. Both of these apps are free to download and will work in the United States and Canada.
Speaking of fuel and vehicles, if you are going to be driving your personal vehicle to your vacation destination make sure that you have a mechanic give it a good look before you head off. Having the oil changed, the tires inspected and air pressure checked, fluids topped off, making sure the air conditioning is in good working order, and that your wiper blades are in good condition are all good ideas before you travel.
Not only will some of these items ensure that you get better gas mileage which can save on fuel costs, but having them checked before the trip may keep you from having some expensive, unplanned repair bills while you are traveling.
Travel with Family or Friends
If you want to travel this summer but need to keep the costs down, consider traveling as a group with extended family or friends. This way you can share in the costs of accommodations if you rent a house or condo so that no one bears the burden of the full cost.
This can also lead to savings on food costs if you split the costs of groceries on your arrival and cook the majority of your meals in your lodgings.
Stock up on Snacks and Drinks
Make sure that you stock up on snacks and drinks, and maybe even sandwich-making ingredients that you can keep in the cooler before you leave home if you are traveling by car. This can save you a lot over higher gas station prices and meals on the road.
Even if you are flying to your destination, you may want to make a grocery run for snacks, drinks, and easy-to-prepare breakfast or lunch options that you can make and eat in your hotel room even if it doesn’t have a kitchenette.
Most hotels have a coffee pot that you can use to heat water and a mini-fridge to keep a few items cold and any meals or snacks that you can prepare and eat in the room will save you money in the long run.
If you are staying in an Airbnb, condo, or hotel with a kitchen, plan to eat as many meals as possible at your lodgings. Outside of your accommodations, and fuel expenses, food will likely be the next priciest item on your vacation expenses list.
That doesn’t mean you can’t go out for a nice meal or two, you just won’t have to feel bad about it if you splurge a little. Chances are the meals that you prepare will be healthier and less expensive than what you might get eating out so your body will thank you too.
Vacation is not a vacation without having some fun adventures and delicious food, but before you head out make sure that you check in on some coupon apps to see if you can save some money. You might be able to find deals like getting a child admission for free or ½ price with the purchase of an adult ticket at an amusement park, water park, or museum, or a free appetizer or kid’s meal coupon with a purchase for a specific restaurant in the area.
It’s always worth taking a look at these apps before heading out because saving money means that you will have more to spend on other vacation adventures or to put toward your next trip. Some examples of apps that you might look at are Groupon, LivingSocial, and TravelZoo.
In addition to these coupon apps for your phone, check out the hotel or resort lobby and any visitor’s centers you might stop in to see if there are coupons available for local restaurants or attractions. Speaking of attractions, make sure that you check for coupons or deals at those too.
Sometimes small businesses or even larger attractions will have money-saving deals with each other. For example, you might get a ½ priced snack at a nearby eatery after playing at the local miniature golf course.
As an alternative to heading to a beach resort, or expensive theme park consider going on a camping trip this summer instead. Chances are you can find a nice campground near you within a few hours' drive of your home, and camping doesn’t have to mean roughing it in a tent either.
Many campgrounds offer “glamping” experiences or cabin rentals. Campgrounds can have many of the same amenities as hotels like game rooms, pools, boat or equipment rentals, wi-fi, and more. You also get to spend time with your family in the great outdoors instead of buzzing from one expensive activity or restaurant to the next.
Remember that the point of your summer travel is to make memories with those who you are traveling with, not how much you spend on the trip. You can have an amazing time with memories that will last a lifetime without having to empty your bank account.
How about you? Do you have any other summer travel tips to share? Are you heading out this summer? Do tell!
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