Ah, summer. It’s that special time of year when the days are longer, the weather’s warmer, and weekends are filled with fireworks and barbeques. For many people, summer is also the perfect opportunity to get away from it all. That’s right, the summer travel season is upon us!
While taking a summer vacation is an annual tradition for lots of Americans, the costs associated with summer travel can really take a bite out of your budget. Luckily, though, with the advent of the Internet, there are tons of opportunities for saving money on your summertime getaway. Take a look at the five tips below to plan your summer travels on the cheap:
1. Plan ahead
One of the worst things you can do when planning a trip is put it off until the last minute. Not only are your options for flights and hotels going to be limited, it’s much more expensive. Start thinking about your vacation several months in advance, and begin booking as soon as you can. If you’re just getting around to planning your travels now, consider taking your trip over Labor Day weekend or later in order to avoid paying through the nose. Also, use tools such as Bing Travel and Airfare Watchdog to set advanced alerts for deals on flights and hotels.
2. Don’t be rigid
If you’re planning a vacation and have the ability to be flexible with the departure and return dates, use this to your advantage. Most major travel sites will allow you to compare flight and hotel prices based on a 3-5 day window around your desired travel dates, and costs can vary wildly between just a few days. Play around with different dates to see what’s most affordable.
3. Ask about discounts
When you’re reserving hotels and rental cars, it could really pay off to ask about discounts. Tell the companies you’re booking with what your profession is and the organizations you’re a member of and ask if they provide discounts based on your affiliations. This is particularly useful for people in the military, teachers, government workers, those who are members of unions, and those who belong to AAA or AARP, but even if this doesn’t describe you, ask about discounts anyway. After all, the worst you can hear is ‘no’!
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4. Keep an eye on social media and daily deal sites
A lot of major hotel chains, airlines, and rental car companies announce flash discounts and promotional codes on their social media sites. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for otherwise unadvertised deals. In addition, about a week before your trip, start scouring daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social for discounts on restaurants and entertainment in the city that you’re traveling to. These simple steps could save you major bucks on every aspect of your trip.
5. Remember, hotels are not your only option
There are tons of options for accommodations out there besides hotels. Think about renting out a house or condo or staying in a hostel instead of a hotel, particularly if you can’t get a find a good deal at the time you want to travel. You might find that these options are not only cheaper, but also more comfortable and convenient than a humorless hotel.
Saving big on summer travel isn’t as difficult as it seems. Using the tips above, you’ll be entering the autumn months with some great summer memories and extra cash in your pocket!