As the last day of school arrives families everywhere rejoice. The next three months will be filled with lazy mornings, long, sunny days and firefly filled nights. For most families summer also includes a trip to the beach, the mountains, an amusement park or a fun-filled visit to far away relatives. Unfortunately, a week of traveling can become quite costly. Before you book your airfare, reserve a hotel room or pack your bags you’ll want to search for discounts that can help you save money. Here are a few key ways to enjoy a week away without creating a dent in your wallet.
Save on Air Fare
Save money by searching for airfare well in advance of your trip. Start with discount travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia then broaden your search to traditional airline carriers like Delta and Southwest Airlines. If your itinerary and schedule are flexible then try various date combinations to find your cheapest option. It’s often cheaper to fly out and return mid-week. A Wednesday-to-Wednesday trip might save you hundreds of dollars over a trip that takes place over the weekend or on Sunday nights when a lot of business travelers fly out.
A lot of airlines charge extra these days for those tightly packed bags and suitcases. Consider packing as little as possible for your trip. Search your closet for mix-and-match outfits that can be worn interchangeably. Know the weight limits of the carrier you intend to fly on and make certain you weigh your bag before leaving for the airport. Nothing spoils a trip faster than an unexpected checked baggage fee before you take off.
Save on Car Rentals
Car rental companies are constantly offering discounted rates and promotions. Rental companies closest to the airport often charge the most money. When searching for the best prices consider looking for companies that are a bit farther away. Before booking a car think carefully about your vehicle needs. Are you traveling with your family, with one other person or alone? Do you need room for a lot of luggage or are you traveling with nothing other than a light carry on bag? Will you need a comfortable vehicle for a long drive or can you choose a more compact vehicle that serves its purpose without extra bells and whistles? Weigh each decision point carefully. The difference between a large vehicle and a small one can increase your weekly rate quite quickly.
Save on Accommodations
If you want to stay in a hotel compare rates on websites like Priceline.com before settling on a room. Search for hotels in the city you wish to stay in, but also consider neighboring towns that may be much less expensive. If you are renting a car it might not be a big deal to drive an extra ten to fifteen minutes to reach your desired activities and destinations. In addition to hotels consider out-of-the-box accommodations like vacation homes, home exchanges and Airbnb.
Save on Activities
Create an itinerary long before you leave for your trip. Research fun places to visit within your destination city and then search for online coupons and promotion codes that will help you explore those famous sights for less. You will find discounts for theme parks, zoos, water parks and aquariums. If you have a membership to a local zoo or aquarium in your town ask about reciprocal admission programs. A lot of times you can receive free or discounted admission to exhibits in other states.
Save on Food
If you are staying in a place with a refrigerator drive or walk to the nearest grocery store and load up on groceries. Try to eat breakfast in your hotel room, pack a sandwich for lunch and only eat dinner on the go. If you want to eat at a particularly expensive restaurant consider reserving a table at lunchtime. Meals are often cheaper during the mid-day hours then they are after evening arrives. You’ll get the same great dining experience and same delicious food, but you won’t pay those hefty dinner prices. If you are in a resort area ask shops and stores for coupon books to local restaurants. You can often find these outside of convenience stores. If you plan to visit a few chain restaurants while driving to and from your location check for printable coupons and other promotional deals first.
With a little extra planning you can save a significant amount of money on your next summer vacation.