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Time always flies and June, July and August will be here before you know it, making now the ideal time to start planning your summer vacation. While it won’t make your trip completely cost-free, thinking through your plans and booking your itinerary in the waning days of winter and the early part of spring can definitely spare you from going overboard on travel expenses. Here are some early-planning travel-savvy tips that can help you save money on your next summer vacation.
Flex Your Travel Dates
Even if you’re considering a destination for your summer vacation that requires a flight, you can limit the dent an airline ticket makes in your bank account. It’s as simple as being smart about when you book and which days you plan to travel. Cheap Air’s 2021 and 2020 Annual Airfare Studies indicate that the prime booking window is generally between 21 and 95 days prior to departure. More specifically, somewhere between 64 and 76 days out has been the ideal time to buy a ticket over the last few years.
The studies also consistently find that booking your flights for a Tuesday or Wednesday saves you the most money on airfare. So, instead of a weekend-to-weekend trip, consider a midweek-to-midweek vacation. In addition to the savings, you’ll also have one full weekend over your trip to enjoy all your destination has to offer.
Search for Airfare Deals
If you haven’t chosen a destination, another good way to save money is to let an airfare deal determine where you go this summer. There are plenty of websites that do the work for you, including those that let you search based on your city of departure and others that notify you of deals as long as you create an account or sign up for their email alerts. Here are just a few of the sites to check out:
The earlier you start scouring for deals, the more likely you are to a find a flight to a dream destination for a price you can afford.
Pick Closer-to-Home Destinations
If keeping down the cost of your summer vacation is your biggest priority, cutting out airfare altogether might be the best way to go. This is especially true for family vacations with multiple people in your traveling party. So, opt for a destination that you can drive to comfortably. This could be a spot somewhere in your own state or a neighboring one that you love returning to every few years or another location that you’ve always wanted to visit but never had the chance before now.
By ruling out the need for flights months in advance, you’ll have a better sense of how much you can afford on a vacation that’s closer to home.
Stay with Family or Friends
If staying in a hotel or vacation rental will stretch your budget further than is comfortable but you’re tired of staycations, why not reach out to family who live elsewhere to see if they’re up for visitors this summer? Going to visit grandma and grandpa or a favorite aunt and uncle also comes with the added benefit of free babysitting so you and your spouse can add a date night or two to your family vacation.
Old friends who encourage houseguests can also be the answer to a limited vacation budget. Just practice good travel etiquette by giving them plenty of advance warning that you want to take them up on their offer.
Go Au Naturel
Camping is another inexpensive travel option, especially for those who love the outdoors or seek a nature-filled experience for a change. If this sounds enticing, but you’re not sure where to find a suitable campground, the sooner you start looking the better. Begin with the website for your state parks, the National Park Service (NPS) or KOA. An outdoor supply store near you might also have tips for places to camp in your region of the country.
In case you’re an inexperienced camper, the NPS offers how-to-camp tips that are very useful in helping you proactively prepare for your trip.
Split the Costs
If staying at the home of family or friends isn’t possible and sleeping in a tent or cabin is not your idea of a good time, why not consider asking a friend or another family if they’d like to share a vacation rental with you? Splitting the cost of accommodations may very well put a particular destination within your budget range.
Plan for the Unforeseen
No matter how early and wisely you plan, sometimes life ends up getting in the way and causes you to either disrupt your vacation or cancel it altogether. Another key piece of smart early planning is looking into travel insurance to protect you from unforeseen circumstances that could interrupt your vacation, leaving you empty-handed despite the money you spent on your trip.
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