Who wouldn’t want to save $619 on their next vacation?
We asked three experts to share simple tips to pay less to travel, as well as an estimate of the dollar savings for each tip. In all, we estimate this advice could save you at least $619 per traveler, and possibly more for a longer stay.
Don’t worry — there’s still time to plan your cheap summer vacation. But before you do, make sure you’re following these travel strategies to get more summer fun while spending less.
1. Don’t buy airfare at the last minute
Potential savings: $139 or more
“The best piece of advice I can give is to not book too late,” said Liana Corwin, travel expert for airfare search app Hopper. “This is the costliest (and one of the most common) mistakes that travelers make, setting them back an average of $139 on domestic trips and $529 on international ones.”
2. Don’t buy airfare too early, either
Potential savings: $38 or more
Corwin said Hopper’s research found that you can book too early, too. If you find the pricing window “sweet spot,” you could save $38 on domestic flights, and $474 internationally, according to Hopper’s flight search data.
“If you’re traveling to a traditional business destination like New York or Washington, D.C., the best prices tend to be about three months in advance of departure,” Corwin said. “If you’re heading to a classic vacation destination such as Hawaii or Cancun, however, you’re likely to find the lowest deals about one month before your trip.”
3. Shop around before booking
Potential savings: $46 or more
“Another mistake travelers often make is booking their flights the same day that they search for them,” Corwin said. Hopper’s research found that two-thirds of ticket prices will drop within 24 hours of a customer’s first airfare search.
Waiting for a drop offers average savings of $46 on domestic trips or $139 internationally, Corwin said.
“An app like Hopper will tell you if the flight price you’re looking at is a good deal and whether you should buy now or wait,” she added. “No guessing needed!”
4. Pack in carry-ons only
Potential savings: $50 round trip
Checking a bag when flying will usually land you with a $25 fee. You also could face additional charges if your checked bag is overweight or if you check more than one bag.
If you can manage to travel light, you’ll be able to save some cash — $25 each way for a total savings of $50 round trip. Two U.S. airlines don’t charge a fee for the first checked bag, according to USA Today: Southwest Airlines and Cape Air.
Even if you’re planning to pack only in carry-on bags, check each airlines’ baggage policy, advised Johnny DiScala, founder of travel savings site JohnnyJet.com.
“Some of the new basic economy fares charge even for carry-on bags,” he said.
5. Skip hotels with resort fees
Potential savings: $21 a night
“Make sure there are no resort fees before reserving a night,” DiScala said.
The average resort fee is $21, according to The Washington Post. By checking prices and avoiding this fee, you could save up $100 or more on a five-night stay.
Since it’s not included in average nightly rates, however, you might not take account for resort fees when comparing the costs of different hotels. Make sure you’re carefully checking for all fees and reviewing your total before making a final decision.
6. Check price even after you’ve booked
Potential savings: $10 or more a night
Even after you’ve found a hotel that you like and booked your reservation, you can still shop around for a better deal.
“Keep checking the price of the hotel after [you] book,” DiScala suggested.
As your booked date approaches, your hotel might lower prices or run a promotional offer that’s less than your initial rate.
If the price goes down, cancel your first reservation and rebook at the lower price, DiScala said. Be sure to watch out for cancellation fees, which could negate the savings you could get by rebooking.
7. Eat in for one meal
Potential savings: $15 a day
Just because you’re not at home doesn’t mean you have to eat out for every meal. Finding a way to eat free or cheap can save as much (or more) than $15 a person, per day.
For example, a lot of hotels offer a continental breakfast that’s included in your rate. You can get your first meal of the day for free, as well as grab an apple or banana to snack on while you’re out and about.
“[You could also] have a large lunch and small dinner since lunch menus tend to be cheaper,” DiScala said.
Booking a hotel or Airbnb property that has a fridge and microwave can allow you to go grocery shopping and save more money, he added.
8. Take advantage of travel credit cards
Potential savings: Up to $300
Your method of payment for vacation costs can also be an opportunity to save.
One of the biggest savings comes on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
“[It] gives you a $300 travel credit each year as a reimbursement for your travel purchases (done on your anniversary date of becoming a cardholder),” Hardekopf said.
“The Bank of America Premium Rewards card gives you up to $200 in combined airline incidental and expedited screening costs,” he added.
This offsets expenses such as baggage fees and even TSA Precheck application costs.
These tips are a great starting point to save on your next trip. They also prove that paying less for your next vacation can be simple.
If you invest a small amount of time in researching airfare and comparing hotel rates, you can shave hundreds of dollars off your travel costs. And using smart travel strategies and tools to find and compare deals makes it even easier.
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