Summer is Almost Over, but You Don’t Have to Say Goodbye to that Desired Summer Vacation
At the rate it’s going, by the time you blink your eyes, the sun will set on summer and vacations will be out of the question for many. While time might be the negating factor that’s preventing a summer vacation, for others it’s money or a little bit of both. For those who want to get away before summer is over, there is still some time to hit the road or skies, provided you can find the money of course.
Andrea Woroch a consumer and money-saving expert, says even though planning ahead is key to saving on hotel accommodations, airfare and car rental, there is still time to squeeze in a summer vacation without blowing your budget.
Sixty-eight percent of vacationers overspend and millennials are most likely to do so according to a recent survey by Experian. In another survey, Experian found 72 percent of people spend more than they had planned on a vacation and 52 percent come back from vacation not only with memories but also with credit card debt to pay off.
Woroch says these last-minute travel booking strategies will help you save big.
Be flexible on the destination and travel date. Having the option to travel anywhere, any day, will afford you as many deals as possible. Check out vacation spots during their off-peak season for cheaper airfare and hotel rates. Third party travel booking sites like Travelocity or Orbitz can help you review prices for the least expensive option. Name your own price on airfare, car rentals and accommodation on Priceline, especially if you don’t mind not knowing with whom you’re booking.
Opt for the open road. With the price of gas at least lower than it was about a year ago it might be a good idea (and cheaper) to vacation within driving distance. But before you hit the highways and byways make sure tires are properly inflated and be sure to check GasBuddy.com for the cheapest fuel along your route. Forbes says Wednesday and Thursday before 10 a.m. are the best days to save on gas since many gas stations, “in anticipation of weekend travel,” up their prices on Thursday afternoon.
Some other road trip tips:
Edmunds.com, the automotive research site, says accelerating and braking slower can save you up to 35 percent on gas. They also say set the cruise control to a max of 65 mph when you’re on the highway and keep an eye on tire pressure. Tires that lost only a quarter of their pressure can cost up to 4 percent of fuel efficiency – that’s about 11 cents per gallon according to the Department of Energy. Edmunds also says turning your car off instead of letting it idle will save up to 19 percent of your fuel.
Consider travelling any day but Friday. The busiest travel day of the year according to the U.S. Travel Association is Friday in June, July and August. It is on Fridays that most people hit the airports, and gas prices are the highest on Fridays in the summer. To cash in on last minute rates whether by driving or flying, plan to travel on less busy days like Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. And when booking hotel and car rentals Woroch also says Sunday to Thursday are your cheapest bet.
Apps are cool, convenient and can help you save. Woroch says because 20 percent of travel bookings are done on smartphones and tablets and the practice is gaining popularity, travel merchants are targeting mobile users with on-the-go deals. There are apps like HotelTonight that helps you find last-minute luxury accommodation for up to 70-percent off; Jetsetter’s NOW that allows you to book same-night hotels and complete vacation bookings for up to 60-percent savings; not forgetting the Travelzoo app that allows you to search for deals on everything – from full-blown, all-inclusive vacations to deeply discounted tickets for local events.
Use those coupons. A good place to start is by signing up to receive coupons and by following your favorite hotel and car rental companies on social medial like Twitter for their latest deals. Coupon aggregators like CouponSherpa.com can help you do quick and easy searches for your specific needs in a flash.
Club memberships like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s can be of great help. It’s often overlooked that these clubs offer the option of booking car rentals and vacation packages. Woroch says these clubs usually offer competitive rates through the travel sections of their websites. The proof is in the pudding – Wororch herself saved over 30 percent on a last-minute car rental for a trip to Hawaii through Costco. Cha-ching!
Keep accommodation choices open. If hotel deals are not accommodating to your budget how about renting a room or two from AirBNB, Couch Surfing for a free stay if you’re traveling solo, or purchasing an additional traveler’s non-refundable room reservation at a discount via RoomerTravel.com. If none of those ideas appeal to you and hotels are too expensive, hostels may be a cheaper option and often offer private rooms for families. Woroch also says considering the great outdoors can be cost effective and ReserveAmerica.com can help you find these inexpensive camping sites.
Be your own guide. Forgo the guided tours that are often pricey during peak travel season and use those apps as a guide to uncovering historical sites, architectural design, gardens, museums and the like, Woroch suggests. There’s the EveryTrail app that allows you downloadable Fodo’s walking tours for $1.99, offering turn-by-turn directions and everything you need to know about great places to stop along the way from Boston’s Freedom Trail to La Rambla in Barcelona. The Field Trip app that uses your location to direct you to cool spots like historic sites, shops and even offers a “special deals nearby” feature. Historypin is another that also identifies local landmarks based on your location with historic and design details.
Be sure to follow these excellent tips from Woroch. Create a flexible plan, but a stringent budget. Keep from using the cards unless you have saved up to eliminate the balance as soon as you return home so you don’t spend extra on interest charges. Remember swiping is easy. Working to pay it off is not. Save yourself the hassle of a summer debt hangover!