School’s almost out and summer is almost in. Summer holidays, temperatures, and office hours (if you’re lucky) mean that vacation season has arrived. Have you started planning your summer travel?
It doesn’t matter if your plans will take you to the beach, to visit family, or to explore a new city. We have 3 essential shopping hacks that will help you save money on travel.
1. Be flexible
Flexibility can save you big money on both flights and hotels. When planning your trip, check to see how departure and return dates affect the ticket cost. Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Saturdays are usually the cheapest days to travel. Also, keep in mind that flying at less popular hours of the day can save you money. Hopping on the red eye could leave you with extra cash in your pocket once you reach your destination. Also, don’t forget flexibility when choosing your arrival airport. In many popular areas, you can save money by choosing a regional airport instead of the main hub.
When looking for a place to call home on your vacation, keeping an open mind can save you money too. Hotel bidding sites allow you to name your price. In exchange, you give up knowing exactly which hotel you are purchasing. Don’t worry, you can still provide guidelines so that you end up with a room you love. Also, don’t forget to look at alternatives to hotels. When traveling with a large group, renting a house and splitting the cost can be more effective. Another alternative is to try community travel marketplaces like Airbnb to find the lodging for your next vacation.
2. Plan ahead, just not too far ahead
If you’ve ever had to purchase a last minute plane ticket, you know that there can be some steep costs associated with not planning ahead. However, how far in advance should you plan? Most experts recommend purchasing domestic flights 1-3 months prior to travel. For international trips, look to book 3-5 months before your trip. While you plan ahead, keep an eye on airfare for your destination. Sites like AirfareWatchdog can help you track the average cost of flights so you know if you are getting a good deal when you book.
3. Watch out for hidden costs
Anyone who has flown recently is well aware that airlines seem to be hiking up fees and charging for increasingly more “extras” that used to come standard. Understanding baggage fees (including extra charges for heavy bags) is important before you head to the airport. The hidden costs aren’t only coming from the airlines though. Pack your own meal or snacks in your carry on luggage since everything from a bag of pretzels to a sit down meal will cost more once you pass through security. If your vacation plans will take you on the road instead of through the air, plan your route and be aware of toll roads you might encounter. Decide ahead of time if it is worth paying the tolls or if you are better off adjusting your route to avoid them.