By Chris Dato • April 13, 2015
For many of us, the sun has set on Spring Break, and school is back in session. That means that it is back to boring teachers and two-hour long lectures and notes and studying. If you are like most students, every post-Spring Break class session is spent counting down the time until summer arrives. Unfortunately, by the time beach season rolls around, all of your friends have their pockets turned inside out. Luckily, the solution to this problem might be simpler than you think. Instead of just daydreaming about the adventures that summer holds, you can save big by turning those dreams into booked reservations now. But planning ahead isn’t the only tip to affordable summer travel. Here are some ways to save on each facet of your summer trip.
The first major expense you are going to incur on the road to realizing your grand summer plans is travel. Don’t rule out hitting the road as a potential solution for this. Although we are going to focus on larger scale travel right now, I have made known my support of the potential saving and stories a good road trip offers.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that you are going to blow your budget if your destination requires you to take to the sky. Air travel presents its own unique opportunities for saving, as long as you plan ahead. Especially when you are booking airfare, timing is everything. The optimum time to make flight reservations is 54 days before the flight according to CheapAir.com, but that is just the beginning. Be sure to do the actually booking of your flight on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. This is because airlines typically announce their promotions at the beginning of the week, and raise their rates during the weekend.
Despite what you might think, it is not in the interest of your budget to avoid busy airports. A busier airport means more competition between airlines, which often results in better rates. Also on the list of ideas that are better than they sound at first: the infamous rewards miles. Many people accrue miles (or similar rewards points) without even realizing it through their credit cards. Likewise, websites like PointHub.com have made the process of using frequent-flyer mile much less treacherous. These websites, through airfare comparison and complex calculation, determine whether or not it is practical to use your points.
Finally, do everything in your power to avoid checking a bag (Unless you are flying JetBlue, who give you one free). Bag fees start at $25 a bag each way, so this seemingly small expense adds up fast. Use every military packing technique you have in your arsenal to stuff your TSA measurement regulation adherent carry-on until it’s seams are ready to burst. It is also important to remember that you are allowed a personal item such as a backpack or purse, in addition to your carry-on bag. However, the personal item is also the best way to avoid paying baggage fees for awkwardly shaped items, such as your guitar or surfboard (staples when traveling for summer). Best of all, the flight crew is not going to want to deal with storing these items in the cabin, so they will often perform a gate-check of the bag for no charge!
The wonderful World Wide Web continues to make it easier to get the best price on a hotel room. For years, we have had sites that presented options for hotel rooms in a given city. Now the Internet has taken this concept even further. Sites like Trivago.com allow you to see the competing rates for the same room across the leading online travel sites. Still, some sites take the concept of competition one step further. BackBid.com alerts its customers of when better rates become available, and will even book rooms for customers who have already made reservation with a competing establishment. In addition to the comprehensive rates, these websites also offer all the information travelers could need about the features and amenities of the resort.
Another great way to save when finding your accommodations is to look for package deals. Especially for peak travel times, you will find many promotions for booking your room and flight as a package. For Instance, Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas, is offering some particularly attractive incentives for booking a trip today. In addition to a $250 airfare credit, each traveler gets free admission to the Atlantis Water Park, as well as a free dolphin encounter! Packages like this are going to continue to be offered by many companies as summer approaches, so make sure you are keeping your eyes open. View all Atlantis promo codes and coupons here.
You can check out this infographic we posted a little while back for even more tips on traveling on a budget. In the next article, we will be looking at more ways you can save on your summer vacation including where to go and how to get around, so be sure to check back in. Now, stop searching for summer travel tips while you are in class and go back to taking notes!
Chris Dato A Southern California kid born and raised, Chris is happiest with sunglasses on his face and sand under his back. Although a self-proclaimed master money saver, he prefers the term 'responsibly frugal' to 'cheap.'