Summertime, and the vacationing is easy — as long as you don’t spend all your money on the way to your destination. When you travel, it’s easy to get carried away with your spending in the heat of the excitement. You can still soak up the summer months, while keeping your finances on track. Whether you’re a student or a parent, check out some of my favorite summer travel saving tips.
10 ways to save money this summer
1. Pick a less popular destination
If have your heart set on saving money and not a destination, consider traveling away from the norm. Just because a destination isn’t number one on every travel list, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to explore. Opting for a less popular destination often means you can find unexpected deals. They’re also less crowded than the typical hot spots. A win-win all around! You never know, some of the best travel destinations might be off the beaten path.
2. Score a deal from your phone or tablet
You’re probably used to looking online for travel deals, but have you tried using an app? Yahoo travel suggests using a brand’s mobile app can help you save money, as "companies will often put exclusive discounts on their mobile apps." Some of my other favorite travel apps include TripAdvisor, Roomer, and Kayak. You can also set up alerts to help stay on the lookout for deals. This way you won’t have to spend hours stalking the internet for great airfare deals. The deals will come to you! Using these apps is also great because you’re able to easily compare prices across multiple airlines and hotels at once.
3. Book on a certain day
Did you know that prices fluctuate based on the day of the week you are browsing? Sunday is the cheapest day of the week to score a deal on those plane tickets you’ve been day dreaming about. Don’t miss out on a better deal by booking tickets on the wrong day.
4. Pick the right time to go
The day of the week, the week of the month, or even the month of the season can make a big difference in what you’ll pay. Do your homework in advance to find out when rates are the lowest for your destination of choice. Likewise, timing can affect the cost of attractions. Some will offer discounted prices for “shoulder season” visits, or lower ticket prices for less-busy days of the week. Being flexible on your travel dates means more money could stay in your pockets. Play around with your dates, and you may be able to snag a great deal!
5. Take a road trip
Ditch the plane ticket and hop in the car instead! The total cost of gas for your trip is almost always cheaper than round trip air travel, especially if you’re buying tickets for a family of 4. This is a great option to save money, while still fitting in a vacation. The drive to your destination also becomes a memorable part of the trip. From roadside attractions to local diners, there’s bound to be stops along the way to stay entertained. Road trips allow you to be more flexible. You can explore your destination without ride-share expenses or navigating public transportation. If you’re traveling somewhere you would need a car no matter what, road tripping saves you the stress and cost of renting a car once you arrive. If you haven’t considered taking a road trip this summer, you are missing out on a great option.
6. Stay in alternative housing
As fun as hotels can be, their cost can really start to add up. Cost saving accommodations are out there. Vacation rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway offer a wide range of options. You can rent anything from an entire home to just a private room in a shared space. Depending on your needs, you can find many different budget travel options. Hostels are another great option to consider to help stretch your wallet a little further. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek out friends in your destination. Crashing on their couch can be both a great bonding experience and a cost saving opportunity.
7. Look for local deals at your destination
Don’t forget to scope out local deals at your destination. Hunt for coupons or research happy hour deals. You never know how much you can save by doing a little research. Some hotels offer discounts on tours or local attractions. Don’t be afraid to ask the concierge what they have to offer!
8. Take advantage of freebies
Don’t waste your money on things you can get for free. Leave the shampoo or other toiletries at home, since most hotels provide these things to their guests. If your hotel offers a free breakfast, don’t be afraid to be the first in line and to go back for seconds. Taking advantage of the freebies means you can spend more money on other things you enjoy.
9. Fix your own meals
Traveling means eating out a lot, and all those meal tabs can add up quickly. Investopedia makes a great suggestion – make a pre-trip grocery run and take your own food! If you’re traveling on a road trip, pack a cooler with lunch to eat on the road. If you stay in a hotel with an in-room mini-fridge and microwave, you’ll have everything you need to store and prepare simple breakfast and lunch fixin’s. Eating simple, “homemade” meals will allow you to put more of your meal budget toward a really great dinner.
10. Pack smarter
With airlines charging for checked bags, you’ll probably want to minimize the amount you carry. Most airlines allow one carry-on and one personal item for each traveler. Smart packing could allow you to get around checked bag fees altogether. USA Today offers helpful tips to pack smarter and optimize space in your bags, including rolling clothes instead of folding them. Try some of these tips to reduce the amount you carry:
- Take clothes that can be worn more than once without being laundered, and that you can mix-and-match for a day of play or an evening out.
- If you’re traveling with a group of friends, decide beforehand who will bring what items to avoid having duplicates.
- Take just one pair of shoes – and wear them to the airport instead of stuffing them in your suitcase.
Summer vacations provide all kinds of opportunity for fun in the sun. You can never be too prepared when planning your trip. The most important tip is to set a budget before you travel. The only thing worse than coming home from vacation with a stomach flu or bad sunburn is bringing back big bills because you overspent! A budget will help you plan better, control costs, and enjoy your travel plans more.
For even more great travel tips, check out our blog from March where we discussed Spring Break budgeting hacks!