Summer is almost here. It’s just around the corner. Maybe you have already planned your vacation. Or maybe you are dreading doing so because you know that it’s going to cost you money. Either way, you can find ways to save money on summer travel. In fact, here are 22 ideas to get you started:
1. Skip Summer Travel Altogether
I’m going to start with the obvious. However, perhaps it’s not so obvious. Many people feel like they have to take their vacation in the summer. The kids are off of school. There are events like weddings and reunions. We face a lot of pressure to travel in the summer. But it’s not a necessity. It’s okay to say no this year. If you’re feeling stressed for cash, then the best way to save money on summer travel is not to travel at all. You can still take a break; try a staycation instead.
2. Reduce Summer Travel
You might not feel like you can skip summer travel altogether. That’s okay. The next best option to save money on summer travel is to limit your trip. Cut your trip in half. Limit it to just a few days for a particular event. Use red-eye flights to skip hotel rooms on travel days. If you can’t reduce the number of trip days, try to reduce the number of costly things that you do during the trip.
3. Save Money on Summer Travel with Free Activities
There are so many free things to do in any city. The tiniest towns and the largest urban centers all have free events and activities. There are also parks, libraries, and other free places to spend your time. As you plan your summer vacation, make sure that you fill the schedule with fun things that don’t cost you anything at all.
4. Use Public Transportation
Many people automatically rent a car whenever they arrive at a destination. However, that’s often unnecessarily wasteful. You can save a lot of money by using public transportation instead. Plus that’s a great way to really see the city and the people who live in it. If you’re not able to use public transportation, then ride share apps or even cabs can offer a happy medium.
5. Couchsurf or Find Shared Housing
Hotels can cost a lot of money. Therefore, if you can find a cheap alternative, then you can save a lot of money on summer travel. The best option is to pay nothing, of course. Do that by couchsurfing. You can stay with a friend or a friend of a friend. Alternatively, couchsurfing websites offer free or cheap housing with strangers. You can find similar options using shared housing searches on Airbnb. Try staying in a hostel.
6. Go Camping
Shared housing isn’t the only alternative to paying for a hotel. Why not go camping this summer? If you already have camping gear, then this can be a perfect way to save money on summer travel. If you don’t have the gear, check for rentals at stores such as REI. It’s cheaper to rent this stuff than to buy it if you don’t use it very often.
7. Use Travel Apps to Book Travel
There are a lot of websites and apps to save money on travel. In particular, you can use smart tools when booking your trip. For example, use Hotwire or Hotel Tonight to get cheap last minute hotels. Use Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gasoline during road trips. Use Airport Parking to find the lowest rates if you need that service.
8. Set a Budget
It’s easy to go overboard with your vacation spending. However, if you pay attention to what you spend, then it’s much less likely. Set a budget for the trip. Subtract out what you pay for hotels, flights, etc. Then divide up whatever is left by the number of trip days for a daily spending budget.
9. Research Where to Get Vaccinations
If you are planning on international travel this summer, then you might need vaccinations. People often forget to include this expense in their travel budget. However, it can add up. Luckily, there are ways to save money on travel vaccinations. Review your insurance. Research your options. Choose the lowest cost vaccinations that meet your needs.
10. Know Banking Fees In Advance
If you travel internationally, then you also need to be aware of banking fees. Many credit cards will charge fees for international purchases. Those can add up really fast. Do your research ahead of time to make sure that the way you plan to pay for your trip isn’t costing you extra.
11. Have a Plan for Paying with a Credit Card
Whether you travel domestically or internationally, you’re probably going to use a credit card for some of those travel costs. Be smart about it. First of all, whenever possible, use a rewards credit card. That way, you get some money back. Then, make sure that you have a plan to repay that money as quickly as possible. If you can’t pay it off immediately, be sure to use the credit card with the lowest interest rate.
12. Check Your Phone Plan Before You Leave
As with banking fees, there are phone fees when you travel internationally. If you’re taking your cell phone with you, then make sure that you know all of the details about those fees. When I travel, I temporarily update my ATT plan to allow for international calling. That way, I know exactly what I’m paying for everything in advance. If you do something like this, be sure to cancel those extras on the plan immediately upon returning home.
13. Skip the Souvenirs
You don’t have to bring stuff back for the people that you left behind. It just costs extra money. I like to save money on summer travel by foregoing physical souvenirs for digital ones. I take photos of the things that remind me of specific people on the trip. Then I text those photos to let them know I’m thinking about them. Postcards are also an affordable souvenir if you feel like you must purchase something.
14. Save Money on Summer Travel with Smart Restaurant Choices
It’s okay if you want to eat wonderful food when you travel. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Here are some ways to save money at restaurants while traveling:
- Select mid-price restaurants instead of pricey ones.
- Eat out for lunch then have the leftovers for dinner.
- Order a delicious appetizer and a drink instead of an entree.
- Alternatively, order an entree but skip appetizers and drinks.
- Share a meal with a traveling partner.
- Use coupons and discounts for local restaurants when traveling.
15. Bring What You’ll Need
If you pack smart when you travel, then you can avoid unnecessary expenses. For example, check the weather in advance. It’s a waste to buy raincoats and umbrellas if you can pack them instead. Double-check your toiletries to make sure you’re not forgetting something. Pack snacks.
16. Plan to Do Laundry While Traveling
One of the problems with “bring what you’ll need” is that you might end up with heavy luggage. If you’re traveling by plan, that could mean extra baggage fees. Avoid that by limiting how many clothes you bring. Instead, pack a little bit of detergent and do laundry during your trip. Of course, weigh the potential cost of that with the baggage fee.
17. Compare Prices Before Every Purchase
Speaking of weighing the baggage fee cost against the laundry cost, always compare prices. Seriously. Do a price comparison for every single part of the trip. If you explore multiple options, then choose the lowest price, you can easily save a lot of money on summer travel.
18. Do a Housing Swap
Do you know someone in a great destination who would like to visit the place where you live? Ask them if they want to do a housing swap. It’s a great way to avoid paying hotel fees during a trip.
19. Become a Housesitter
If you like to travel often and you want to save money doing so then build up your housesitting resume. You can watch people’s homes and pets all around the world. Sometimes you get paid for doing so. Even if you don’t, you get free accommodations. They’re often quite nice accommodations, in fact.
20. Look for Discounts You Specifically Qualify For
There are many different types of discounts for hotels, airlines, car rental, and even entertainment at your destination. Just a few discounts that you might qualify for are:
- Student discount
- Kids under a certain age
- Senior discount and/or AARP member discount
- Military discount
- AAA member discount
21. Travel Where Your Money Goes Far
Maybe you haven’t picked a destination yet. You don’t have anywhere that you need to be. You just know that you want to travel. In that case, consider a destination where the currency exchange rate is in your favor. Of course, make sure that you choose a place with relatively affordable airfare as well. Otherwise, you’ll offset the cost of cheap travel with the high price of getting there.
22. Telecommute or Get a Summer Gig
Even if you do all of these things to save money on summer travel, the cost of a vacation might stress you out. You might feel better if you earn money while you’re away. Try to work while traveling. Maybe you can telecommute. Or perhaps if you’re going to be in one location for a few months, you can pick up a local part-time job.
Do you have any tips for saving on summer travel? Share with us in the comments below.