50 Ways to Save on Summer Travel
You’ve worked hard all year long for your summer vacation! But maybe you have more dream than dollars for your ideal destination. Don’t fret, there are plenty of ways to save when traveling this summer. You just need a strategy—we’ve got 50 of ’em.
Stay off the beaten path
“Booking a hotel just a few blocks away from the beach can help you save big,” says Scott Steinberg, founder and CEO of SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked. Likewise, destinations looking to boost tourism, such as Ecuador or Iceland, may offer better deals than more traditional getaways, like England or France. Psst… It pays to know the super-secret language of travel deals.
Compare flight prices on several travel websites
Sure, you know the basic sites, like aggregators Kayak.com and Momondo.com, and you’re signed up for travel alerts and newsletters through places like Bookingbuddy.com, Kayak.com, and Travelzoo.com. Now take your bargain-basement airline-ticket shopping to the next level: The Hopper app tracks fluctuating ticket prices and best times to travel and sends alerts when deals pop up, while Skiplagged searches for cheaper tickets using a tactic called “hidden city ticketing.” This lets you buy a ticket with a layover, and then just depart at the layover spot instead of continuing to your ticketed destination. Another innovative site, kiwi.com, combines flights on different airlines together to form one full, lower-priced route for you. “There are some risks to this approach (for example, if your first flight is delayed and you miss your second flight). “Kiwi helps protect you with the Kiwi Guarantee, which will refund the price of your flight if you miss it,” says Aaron Deutsch, editor of PlaneToTrain.
Check out the city’s convention or visitor’s bureau website
Before you hit the road, check out the website for the city or town that’s your destination. You may find a listing of free events, like outdoor concerts or movies, along with special deals and coupons.
Call a concierge
A concierge at a fancy hotel, like a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, can give you a quick rundown of top recommendations and tips on when to go to beat the crowds and save money, says Steinberg. (Even guests at luxury hotels appreciate a bargain.) Give one a quick call when you’re planning your trip to ask for their best insider advice. On the other hand, these are the things you should never ask the hotel staff.
Use an alternate airport for your destination
By going a little out of your way, you can save a lot of money. For example, when you’re traveling to our nation’s capital, flights into BWI may be less expensive than flying into Regan National Airport. “Compare the costs of flights to close, but alternate, airports, to your destination — this kind of versatility is how to get the best deals for your holiday travel,” says Steinberg. Here are 16 more secrets to always scoring the lowest airfare.
Whether you’re driving or flying to your destination, it’s always more affordable, not to mention generally healthier, to bring your own food along for the trip. Airport restaurants and kiosks, rest stops, and gas stations sell nuts, chips, and sandwiches but are much more expensive than what you get at home. Try these 19 nutritionist-approved road trip snacks.
Avoid car rentals
Do the math before reserving a rental car. Will you come out ahead by renting a car for a week or will it be cheaper to get around in other ways? Depending on your destination, strive to use public transportation, rent-a-bike-stops in town, or Uber and Lyft when needed. Consider car sharing providers like ZipCar and Maven if you want to take a day trip from your destination. If it turns out you really need to rent a car, you’ll want to know the 18 things rental car companies won’t tell you.
Boost your travel savings
Need some extra cash before your trip? Look around your home for items you no longer need or want. You can sell these goods easily with people in your community through Facebook Marketplace, which makes posting pictures and descriptions a breeze. “I recently sold $300 worth of gadgets and clothing that I plan to put toward our upcoming trip to Hawaii,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert. You can also try these tips to make money while you’re away.
Manage your dining out budget
Sure, trying new restaurants is part of the fun of traveling, but there’s no need to eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to stay in a hotel room with a kitchenette; You can eat a quick breakfast in before you start your day and prep sandwiches to take with you when you go sightseeing. Another smart option is a hotel that offers a free continental breakfast. Even if you have to pay a bit more, it may be worth it, particularly if you’re traveling as a family of four, says Woroch.
Go easy on the souvenirs
Inexpensive souvenirs seem harmless, but you can overspend on tchotchkes in a hurry. And don’t blow your budget on the first day of the trip, because you may come across other items you like more and spend more than you had planned on. Wait to shop around and head back to that first store on your last day if/when you’re really sure that’s the keepsake you want. The same goes double for your kids.