Top Tips to Saving Money on Summer Travel
Summer is a great time to pack up the family and hit the road. Of course, everybody else has the same idea and many destinations increase prices during this busy travel season. Here are some tips to help you have a fun trip that doesn’t take all of your hard earned cash.
Try a National Park. Many big parks, such as Yellowstone, charge a one-time use fee and you can visit for up to a week. Depending on your budget, there are campgrounds, cabins or lodges in most of the nation’s parks. You probably do want to plan ahead if you want to stay overnight in a park. While summer is very busy, most national parks are huge and spread out so you won’t feel like you are in a huge crowd.
If you need to rent a car, check for promo codes online before you book. Airport rentals are usually the most expensive, so see if your hotel has a shuttle and can help make rental car arrangements from a different location in the city. Also if you book the most affordable car you can live with, but then show up early in the day, the rental car company may upgrade you for free. It is certainly worth a try. A good comparison site is autoslash.com, which you can check even after you book. If a lower rate is found, it is free to rebook your reservation for the lower price.
You can ditch the rental car, or even your own car, if you visit a city with great public transportation. Washington, D.C. can be stressful to drive in, but has a terrific public transit system that is very affordable. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco do as well. Do your homework first and you may find you can save on car fees or even just the cost of gasoline.
Think about lodging in a new way. Try vacation home rental sites like homeaway.com, vrbo.com or Airbnb. There are many options to choose from on these sites and you can find some really great deals. Since hotel costs are generally the biggest cost on a trip, this is a great option to find a unique place for less than a hotel. You will save money on meals, too, since you can cook some of your own.
If you do want a traditional hotel, check priceline.com/freebies first. This site will let you know which hotels offer free parking, internet, breakfast or other meals, and attraction discounts. This is a one-stop shop to at least check out the offers before you book anything. If you are staying at a chain hotel, make sure you enroll in their member rewards program for extra perks.
You don’t always have to travel far to have a great time. Check out places to go that are within a half-day’s drive or less. You will save on gas and will probably find things to do that you never thought of. If you live in the city, go to the country, and vice-versa.
Whatever you decide for your summer travel plans, just take a little time to plan ahead. Not only will you avoid unpleasant surprises, you will come home with money in your wallet and memories to treasure.