20 Ways to Save Cash on Summer Getaways
Summer vacations are on the rise again … as long as vacationers are getting a good value.
Choice Hotels International surveyed 2,199 people recently. Eighty-seven percent said they planned to take the same number of trips (or more) this summer that they did last year, while nine out of 10 people said they’re looking for the best value in their hotel stay.
Surprisingly, when asked what customers consider to be a good value from a hotel, 75 percent ranked free breakfast as their No. 1 priority.
While I love free cinnamon rolls as much as the next girl, a Continental spread isn’t the best way to save money on a vacation. Read on for more ways to go on vacation without going broke.
1. Be flexible with both time and place
You’ll save the most if you keep your vacation options open — and that includes both travel times and locations. For times, book in the off-peak seasons when popular destinations are cheaper — like booking a cruise in July. For locations, you’ll pay less year-round for less popular destinations.
And if you’re set on visiting a popular destination, you should still consider more than one. If you’re fixated on Disney World, you might miss a great deal on Universal Studios. Before you lock in New York, consider Chicago.
2. Compare transportation options
Don’t limit your transportation options to just flying or driving. Depending on the distance, day of the week and time of year, it may be more cost-effective to take a train.
For example, the travel costs for a trip I’m planning from New Orleans to Chicago breaks down like this:
Estimated driving cost: $554
Cost on American Airlines: $394
Cost on Amtrak: $234.
Then there’s the new breed of luxury buses that operate in several states: cheaper than an airline, but with more legroom, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities.
4. Travel light
Some airlines — like Jet Blue and Southwest — allow you to check one or two bags for free, but most charge an additional fee for your luggage. Airfarewatchdog has compiled a list of airline luggage fees (they can cost as much as $38 for the first bag.) If you’re flying on an airline that charges, downgrade your suitcase to a carry-on. Not only is it cheaper, it’s easier to handle and there’s less risk of loss or damage.
Can’t carry enough clothes? That’s what Laundromats are for.
5. Have a checklist
Make a checklist of everything you need before you pack and doublecheck it before you leave. If you get to your hotel and realize you forgot something important — like your cell phone charger or the SD card for your digital camera — you’ll waste money buying another.
6. Check your insurance
Travelers insurance and rental car insurance can save you a fortune if something goes wrong, but you don’t have to buy it independently. Both types of insurance are often covered by credit card companies, homeowners insurance providers, or auto clubs. Check what you already have before purchasing more.