Save on Summer Travel
Can you believe Summer is already here!? The kids are out of school, the weather is gorgeous, and we are so ready to get out-of-town and enjoy ourselves! If you’re dreaming of the perfect vacation, but are worried about your budget, don’t be! You can still have the vacation of your dreams without breaking the bank. Here are seven simple ways you can save on summer travel from where you stay to the gas you put in the car.
1. Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time
Planning ahead not only makes things easier, it can also save you plenty of money. Having a clear idea of where you’re going and how you’re getting there, means less stress and a lower likelihood of extra expenses. Additionally, the earlier you make your reservations, the lower your rates will be.
When selecting a destination, narrow it down to a list of potential destinations based on price – and be flexible. Avoiding tourist traps and the most popular destinations as those places are practically guaranteed to be more expensive. If you’re wanting to hit the beach, consider staying in a smaller town as opposed to the one that everyone goes to. Not only will you get better prices by avoiding that tourist trap, you’ll avoid the crowds as well.
If you can’t plan ahead, it’s still possible to get some great deals! Look for last-minute getaway deals on travel sites such as Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes. Save on room expenses by searching major hotel chain websites for sales and special offers. And don’t forget to look at websites that specialize in access to last minute trips, such as Last Minute Travel.
2. Make a Realistic Budget and Stick to It
One of the best ways to save on summer travel is by setting aside your funds ahead of time. Not only do you set aside stress, but you lower the chances of spending more than you should. Set a clear target price range for your trip and stick with it. Be sure you include travel, lodging, food, admission prices and even a bit for souvenirs. Once that goal is set, you’ll feel more comfortable in locating and purchasing your vacation quickly.
3. Pick the Right Accommodations
Where you stay can play a big part when trying to save on summer travel. While hotels are the most obvious choice, there are plenty other options to consider. Stay with family or friends who live in the area. Or look into renting a condo or house. Websites such as Airbnb.com, VRBO.com and HomeAway.com often offer low rates on apartment, condo and house rentals worldwide.
If you do choose to get a hotel room, go online and compare several hotels to try to find the best price. Again, use those online deal sites to find discounts and deals. And if you have a little flexibility in your plans, consider booking at the last minute. Just like airlines, hotels will try to fill all rooms – even if that means heavily discounting them to last-minute travelers. By booking a room at the last minute you could snag a great deal.
4. Get a Room with A Kitchenette or Where Kids Eat Free
Food can add up to be one of the biggest expenses while on vacation. Luckily there are plenty of ways to save starting from the minute you hit the road. Avoid on-the-road food costs and save time by bringing your own non-perishable snacks, sandwiches and drinks so you don’t spend money on fast food. Staying at a place where they offer free breakfast as well as reserving a room with a kitchenette can also save you hundreds. Simply pick up some basic groceries and prepare simple meals and snacks in your own space. And when you do go out to eat, look for online deals and for restaurants where kids eat for free.
5. Consider Driving Instead of Flying
Depending on your destination, driving your own car can be a great way to save on summer travel. Summer is considered a peak travel time which means air fare is going to be high. Plus, by driving your own car, you’ll also avoid the cost of having to rent a car or pay for public transportation once you arrive at your destination. And if you can find special offers and other ways to save on gas – see number 7 in this list – you can save even more overall.
Just make sure you have a reliable and safe car that gets good gas mileage and has had its regular summer maintenance. And even if you don’t have a car, renting an economy car at $30-$50 a day could still be a cost-saver over the cost of flying.
6. Search for Discounts and Deals in Every Step of Your Vacation
My absolute favorite way to save on summer travel is by taking advantage on deals and discounts. Online deal sites can not only help you save money while planning your vacation, they can also be priceless when it comes to finding deals once you arrive at your destination.
You can find some amazing money-saving offers on everything from car rentals to hotel rooms, admission tickets to complete vacation packages. Regularly check sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Restaurant.com for online promotional codes and coupons on food, entertainment and more. And don’t forget that Ebates.com offers cash back from dozens of travel merchants, with cash back on everything from hotels to cruises to complete vacation packages.
7. Use Gift Cards Instead of Credit Cards
Using gift cards instead of credit cards for summer travel has several benefits. First of all, there is no additional interest to pay when you stick with gift cards, or cash. Secondly, it’s safer. No need to worry about your cash being stolen while you are in the water. Third, it makes it easier to set a budget and stick with it. Plus, it’s easier to keep up with exactly what you are spending. And many gift cards never expire, so you can use them for all sorts of things including grocery shopping, dining out, date night, paying bills, or even as gifts for grads, Dads, birthdays, and anniversaries.