SAN JOSE, California, July 7, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Summer is always one of the most expensive times to travel. But 2021 has the potential to be even busier (and expensive) than usual due to pent-up demand caused by prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns.
As many individuals and families seek to make up for lost time this summer, the “journey of revenge” is is already pushing up the prices. At the time of writing, prices for many hotels and flights are still below pre-pandemic levels. But this is not the case for all destinations and costs are expected to continue to rise as we move into the summer.
What all this means is that it won’t be as easy to take a cheap trip this summer as it could have been in the winter or spring. This is the bad news. But the good news is that there are still plenty of ways to save on summer travel. So if you are looking to plan a ‘fun in the sun’ vacation on a budget, here are 11 of our favorite tips.
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1. Compare fares on third-party travel sites
Travel websites are marketplaces that can compare prices for hundreds of airlines, hotels, or car rental companies at once. Using these sites can save you a lot of time and money compared to visiting each company’s website separately. Some popular travel sites include:
- Google Flights
- Price line
- Hot wire
While these sites can be a great place to start buying fares, note that not all travel brands allow third parties to display their prices. Southwest Airlines, for example, has long been reluctant. So, after visiting third-party aggregators, you can always check out a few individual sites to make sure you don’t miss out on any great deals.
2. Set up price alerts using flexible dates
Almost all of the above sites also make it easy to set travel alerts. These are handy because they allow you to sit back, relax, and wait to be notified when the price of your trip drops rather than having to manually check fares every day.
You can set alerts for specific dates if you want. But be aware that if you are able to be flexible with your plans, you will have a better chance of scoring a big discount.
If you have a job that allows you to plan a last minute trip, it may be best to say that you are available “anytime” or for “next weekends”. Or, for a little more predictability, you can customize your alert to only notify you of price drops for dates that fall within a specific month.
3. Redeem credit card rewards for travel
This tip has long been one of my family’s favorite travel tips. If you have accumulated credit card rewards points with your daily-use card, you may be able to redeem these points for free nights and / or flights.
Some credit card issuers allow points to be transferred to various travel partners. Others have their own travel portal where cardholders can book trips with points. And some cards offer both! Check the reimbursement options offered by your card.
If you want to take a vacation in late summer (or early fall), you might still have time to apply for a rewards credit card and earn a big sign up bonus before you go. book your trip. Keep in mind, however, that the most generous cards usually require excellent credit. You can check your FICO® scores and reports on myFICO.
4. Divide a house rental into family or friends
While renting an entire home using an app like Airbnb or HomeAway can be convenient, it’s unlikely to be the most affordable choice for a single family. But if you are planning a group vacation, it sure could be!
For example, let’s say you are visiting a city where hotels cost around $ 100 per night and average rental of a 3 bedroom house 210 $ by night. If you can share the house with two other families, your cost per family drops to just $ 70.
So you would save $ 30 per night by choosing the house rental. You could save even more by choosing a house with a well-equipped kitchen, as you would have the option of cooking a few meals. Plus, renting a home can provide other intangible benefits like a living room where everyone can enjoy movie nights and a backyard for the kids to run around.
5. Book midweek flights
Often, travelers plan their trips around a traditional Monday through Friday work week. For this reason, weekend flights tend to be the most popular. But the sheer dynamics of supply and demand mean that these flights are also likely to be more expensive.
Could you start your trip mid-week instead? If so, you are more likely to find the lowest rates. Historically, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have proven to be the cheapest days to fly.
If you have to fly on weekends, try to opt for Saturday rather than Friday night or Sunday. Flying on a Sunday gives you an extra day to maximize your trip. But this advantage also tends to inflate Sunday fares.
6. Fill your itinerary with free sights and activities
Like a Florida native, I know firsthand how much fun a theme park vacation can be. But it’s also more difficult to plan a budget-conscious trip when you visit an amusement park or other paid location every day.
But there are a lot of fun things you can do for free on your summer getaway. In the case of our family, we love to hike, so we love to visit destinations that have many state or national parks nearby.
Also, keep in mind that many national monuments and museums do not charge entry. This makes it easier to reduce costs when visiting towns full of historical monuments such as Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, or Boston.
7. Take a road trip
You may not need to book a flight to visit a new and exciting place. There can be a lot of places within driving distance of your home that have a lot to offer.
Not only will you avoid the cost of theft when traveling on the road, but you also won’t have to worry about booking a rental car or paying for daily carpools once you reach your destination.
You will have to pay for gasoline during your trip. But after factoring in fuel costs, you may still be able to save hundreds of dollars by heading to your summer vacation spot. And the larger your family, the greater your potential savings.
8. Visit cities that offer tourist packages
There are currently 13 cities in United States in the same way Toronto, Canada who offers CityPASS tickets. These passes bundle several of the city’s most popular sites at a reduced overall price.
You may be able to save up to 50% by purchasing a CityPASS instead of purchasing tickets for each individual attraction separately. Our family has purchased a CityPASS in three different cities so far and we haven’t been disappointed yet!
9. Look for free stay (or flight) options for children
If you’re traveling with kids this summer, be aware that some travel brands have special gifts that can save parents money. At Holiday Inn, for example, up to two children can be added to their parents’ room at no additional cost. And up to four children per family can eat free at hotel restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
With Frontier Airlines, one child under 15 can travel for free per parent if at least one of the adults is a member of the Discount Den Travel Club. For a family of four, that could cut the cost of their flight in half. However, two blackout dates apply for the rest of summer 2021: June 26-July 13 and September 2-6.
10. Stay away from Major holidays
All travel related prices tend to skyrocket summer holidays. So simply avoiding those dates (and the weekends before and after) could be one of the easiest ways to save on summer travel.
Since Memorial Day has already passed, there are actually only two federal holidays left to avoid this summer: Independence Day and Labor Day.
11. Investigate your city transportation options
If you are visiting a large metropolitan area on your trip, parking and transportation can be much more difficult, so you will need to think about your strategy. In some cities, leaving your vehicle in a cheap parking lot and using public transportation could save you time (and hassle) compared to driving everywhere and paying for parking at every stop.
If you are staying in an area for at least 7 days, you might also want to see if the city offers discounts on week-long passes for parking or public transport. Finally, if you are flying to your destination, you will need to consider whether renting a car or using carpooling and taxis during your stay would be the most affordable.
If you just plan on hitting the beach every day during your summer getaway, booking a rental car may not be worth it. But if you drive a lot to get away from the sights, renting a car could actually be a lot cheaper.
The bottom line
This list of 11 ways to save on summer travel is far from exhaustive. If you actively research, you’ll likely find dozens of other ways to cut costs.
So be intentional and plan well. Because the only thing better than a relaxing summer getaway is a relaxing summer getaway that doesn’t break the bank!
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