Summer time is vacation time, and you're more than ready for an escape. But if you're worried a getaway won't fit into your budget, relax. These tips can help you cut the costs, not the fun.
- Gather a group.
You may net discounts by vacationing with a group of friends or family members. Or see if you can save with a tour group travel package.
- Reward yourself.
Join and use loyalty programs through airlines, hotel chains, and credit cards that let you earn points and redeem them for travel-related discounts.
- Stay tuned to prices.
Even after you've made reservations, watch for price drops. You may be able to get a refund for the difference from your travel booking site, lodgings, or airline.
- Read the fine print.
This is where you'll find information on fees, requirements, and restrictions that could cost you money if you're not careful.
- Get personal advice.
Talk to your hotel concierge and to locals for tips on where to eat, shop, and play - and possibly where not to.
- Save on food.
Look for hotels that include breakfast with your reservation. Also, rooms with kitchenettes or even a small refrigerator and microwave mean you can make a few simple meals and snacks without paying higher prices to eat out. If you do dine out, look for deals online or with apps.
- Check out alternative lodging.
Campgrounds, bed-and-breakfasts, vacation rentals, and in-home stays may all offer cheaper rates then traditional hotels.
- Scoop up a canceled room.
When someone cancels a hotel reservation, you might be able to save as much as 25 percent by taking it over. Look for canceled rooms through online resources like RoomerTravel.com.
- Reduce transportation costs.
Save on parking by choosing a shuttle lot instead of parking at the airport. Decide if you can get by at your destination with public transportation, ridesharing services, walking, or renting bikes. If you do rent a car, check with your insurance company to see if you can bypass the agency's insurance coverage, which can cost $30 or more per day. And then save on gas by using apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru to find the cheapest gas stations on your route.
- Find what's free.
With a little research, you may turn up a surprising number of free (or very low-cost) activities at your vacation destination. Look for community-sponsored events, festivals, and other events. Check schedules for museums, zoos, and other cultural attractions for free or discount days. Or head outdoors to enjoy nature trails, public beaches, parks, and playgrounds.
- Dig for discounts.
Leverage association and warehouse club memberships, your age, or your role in the military to enjoy discounts. Look for city discount cards, attend minor league or community sporting events, or community theater shows. And buy tickets in advance, instead of at the gate or box office on the day of the event.
- Plan for next year.
Your savings can really add up if you plan in advance to vacation during the off-season or fly mid-week. And if you start saving now, you could enjoy an even bigger budget to enjoy on next year's getaway!