Traveling for summer vacation doesn’t have to be a budget breaker if you employ some simple strategies that cut costs, not convenience (or fun).
Here are eight tips for trimming your travel expenses:
1. Plan Way Ahead, or Way Late
Travel discounts begin months in advance. If you know your vacation dates in August or September, cruise the Internet now for deals so you can jump on savings. If you’re planning-averse or spontaneous, then book travel at the very last minute and score savings on hotels and airlines selling seats and rooms that may otherwise go empty.
2. Consider a Home Swap
Staying with friends and family in other cities is one vacation option, but if you like your freedom, switch houses instead. Your cousin from Chicago spends a week in your Tampa digs, while you crash in his city pad. You pay zilch for hotel fees which is a big plus.
3. Arm Yourself to Wheel and Deal
Join travel sites that will help you save big. There are several that send you weekly newsletters, daily updates and e-mail alerts when prices drop. Sidestep.com, for example, posts a running list of late-breaking fares based on your departing city. Travelzoo also offers daily top deals, e-mail alerts and listings of the best travel deals.
4. Think Before You Pack
Where are you going? What will you need? Local tourist shops make a mint off travelers who buy umbrellas, totes, sneakers, etc., because they forgot to check the weather, local geography before loading up the suitcase. When you’re prepared, you won’t spend unnecessary dollars on stuff you already have at home.