How to Save on Summer Travel
Mar 28, 2019 11:12AM
By Elizabeth Buckingham
Planning a trip this summer? Whether a family reunion, European adventure or the cruise of a lifetime, travel is a great way to rest, recharge, and expand your horizons. Research shows that people who spend money on experiences rather than things are happier overall, so instead of upgrading to the latest smartphone, start saving for that trip to Italy you’ve always wanted to take.
Plenty of people think travel is always expensive, but pros will tell you that’s simply not true. There are lots of ways to save money when you travel, even during the busy summer season.
Be flexible. Certain dates, particularly holidays, will always be expensive, no matter the destination. If you’re willing to fly mid-week or off-peak, you can save a lot.
Either book as early as possible, or wait until the last minute. Summer is the busiest time to travel so plan in advance, especially for popular destinations. The alternative: if you have the option, consider booking just a few days or a week out. Many cruises offer last-minute deals because they want those cabins full rather than empty when the ship sails.
Book your trip in reverse. Find a destination offering inexpensive airfare or generous package deals, then build your trip around that.
Stay off the beaten path. Flying into a smaller airport, or staying away from the main drag (think Las Vegas), can reduce your costs substantially.
Choose an off-season destination. The Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii are still gorgeous, even in summer, and definitely cheaper than in the cold weather months.
Look into a package deal, or an all-inclusive resort. This can be even a better option if kids stay free.
Consider closer destinations, and drive rather than fly. With average airfares around $400 per person (and much higher on holidays), flying a family of four can set you back well more than a thousand dollars before you’ve even left. Add in baggage fees and airport transfers, and driving starts to look more sensible.
Choose an Airbnb or vacation rental with a kitchen, allowing you to prepare coffee and simple meals in your accommodation, rather than always eating out.
Rethink your ground transportation. Do you really need an expensive full-size rental car? If you’re in a big city with great public transport options, it might be a lot cheaper to skip the car entirely, especially once you factor in parking and tolls. Plus, you’ll see your destination like a local!
Use credit card points. If you’ve got stellar credit and a debt-free lifestyle, “credit card hacking” can allow you to travel virtually for free. Keep in mind that this option requires you to pay your bills in full every month so that you’re not paying usurious interest.
One forgotten key to saving money is to find a good travel agent, and let them do all the work. Deanna Senna, owner of Smith World Travel in Westminster, said, “Rely on a professional travel agent to plan your vacations. Travel agents have an exclusive network of tour companies, cruise lines, and resorts connecting you to the best destinations and the best pricing. This saves you time and money.”
Senna said that Europe is always a popular choice, particularly in summer; “Italy is a perennial favorite, and Paris and the landing beaches at Normandy are, too.” Travel agents are seeing more requests for “journeys of discovery, with insight into history, culture, and cuisine of a place. Many travelers are shifting away from traditional travel towards a more alternative and experiential form of traveling – with an active, immersive, and local experience in unique locations. Many of our clients don’t want a pre-packaged vacation, but instead want a completely personalized travel experience to more off-the-beaten path destinations. We have the knowledge, resources, and experience to put these types of vacations together.”
Wherever you choose to travel this summer, get the entire family involved. Let each family member choose a particular activity or restaurant at your destination, and give children inexpensive blank notebooks and a set of colored pencils to create their own personalized travel journal. Spending time together traveling is a much more worthy investment of your money than any tech upgrade could ever be!