Summer is almost here and that means many of us have vacation on our minds. If you haven’t booked your summer travel, now’s the time to do it.
We thought we would help you out by going through our archives and finding our top ten tips for airfare, hotels, road-trips and cruises. After all, saving a little money will make your next trip all the more enjoyable. Here is our summer 2014 travel tip round-up!
10 Airfare Tips
- 87% of airfare sales start on a Tuesday and end on a Thursday. When a sale is posted, wait till about 4:00 p.m. EST to see if other airlines have matched it or gone lower.
- Typically, the most affordable days to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Travel on a Friday or Sunday could cost you twice as much.
- July can be the most expensive month to travel. Plan summer vacations for the end of August when peak season is winding down. If you’re traveling without kids, wait till early fall when school’s back in session. You’ll likely score even better airfare deals, plus the weather is still good in most of the country.
- If you want to avoid travel delays, aim for the earliest flight out. Avoid booking the last flight of the day, which could leave you stranded.
- Some airlines offer inexpensive upgrades within 24 hours of your flight.
- If you have trouble using reward miles because you always travel during blackout dates, see if you can use them to upgrade your seat.
- Compare costs not only between airlines, but between nearby airports if you are flying to or from an area with multiple options.
- Disable cookies on your computer before beginning your airfare search. Sometimes sites will recognize your search history and raise prices on flights you showed interest in. I have done experiments to prove this and it’s true.
- If you have flexible travel plans, sometimes getting bumped can be a good thing. If you volunteer, try to get a travel voucher for a certain dollar amount rather than “free” tickets, which often carry more restrictions.
- Flying last minute can cost you, so if you can’t find a flight within your budget, check vacation packages. Agencies buy an abundance of plane tickets in advance, then bundle them with hotels and car rentals. As the trip approaches, they need to sell these packages or it will be a loss to them.
10 Hotel Tips
- Call the hotel directly to book and you will have more room to negotiate. A chain’s 1-800 booking number is usually working off set rates.
- Compare the price quoted over the phone with online rates. Sometimes the lowest rate is an online-only special.
- Or book through a third-party site with a coupon code offer. You can find great deals from sites like Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz or Hotels.com.
- Stay at recently opened hotels, which usually offer rock bottom rates and perks to get people in the door.
- Request a corner hotel room and you may get more space for the same price.
- Find hotels that offer crossover rewards programs like Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta SkyMiles. That means in addition to the Starpoints you already earn for your hotel stays, you will get Delta miles and vice versa.
- If it’s an all-inclusive resort, know the gratuity policy. Many places automatically bill you $10 to $20 per person per day extra at the end of your trip. For a family of four on a 7-day vacation that could be as much as $560!
- You may pay the price to go with a resort package that includes airfare. Many have long or multiple layovers, very early flights, and the price may not even be that much better. (Though as we mentioned earlier, if you’re flying last minute, this could be your only option to find an affordable flight.)
- If you’re a frequent traveler, then you may want to consider a credit card that rewards you with hotel stays. For example, the IHG Credit Card (Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, etc.) gives you 60,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 during the first three months. That can be redeemed for up to 12 free nights.
- When comparing the cost of hotels factor in amenities. A hotel with free breakfast could save your family of four $50 a day, so even if it’s a little more overall, it pays off. Free wi-fi, airport shuttle service, complimentary drinks and recreational activities like a pool or game room are other things to take into consideration.
10 Road Trip Tips:
- Estimate the fuel cost of your trip by entering your vehicle and destination on the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator.
- Use a gas comparison app like GasBuddy.com to find the best price at nearby gas station when you’re on the road.
- 64% of states had lower prices on the weekend, according to a four-year analysis of gas prices by GasBuddy.
- Many stations will give you a discount (often 5-10¢ per gallon) when you pay with cash
- Increase fuel efficiency by keeping luggage inside the car. A loaded roof rack can decrease efficiency by 5%.
- Pack light because an extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce fuel economy by 2%.
- If you need a rental car, it could really pay off to rent it for five days. Most rentals companies start offering the weekly discount rate when you rent for a minimum of 5 days. It may be worth it to rent the car for an extra day just to qualify.
- Monday through Friday business travel accounts for the largest chunk of car rentals. So, if your period of travel includes a Saturday night, you may qualify for lower weekend leisure rates.
- Many credit cards offer built-in car rental insurance. Though read the fine print, some policies don’t cover loss-of-use fees, which are charged each day the rental agency can’t use the car because it is in the auto shop.
- Search online for free road trip printables like car bingo games, coloring pages, song lyrics and word searches. Give your child a blank sketchpad to start a travel journal where they can draw, write and paste in trip memories.
10 Cruise Tips:
- Consider taking a repositioning cruise. These generally happen in spring and fall when ships relocate to accommodate the change in season.
- The first quarter, January to March, is typically the best time to book a cruise. It’s what the cruise industry calls “wave season.” Cruise lines want you to book with them so they discount fares and offer perks like onboard credits.
- Look for last minute fares with 60 to 90 days of departure, which is typically when the final payment is due and ships have an idea of their capacity.
- If you’re more of a planner and want to travel during a peak travel time (like summer in Alaska), then book at least six to 12 months in advance. River cruises are growing in popularity and it is recommended that you book 12 to 15 months in advance.
- June through November is hurricane season, so you may find cruises offering very low rates to the Caribbean. Just make sure you are protected if your cruise is canceled due to weather.
- Book on an old ship recently refurbished rather than a brand new one.
- Look for “kids sail free” promotions. It’s becoming more common for cruise to offer a deal where the 3rd and 4th guests (your kids) in a stateroom cruise free.
- Choose cruises that depart from ports that are driving distance or a cheap flight away.
- If you book a future cruise while still onboard a current cruise, you’ll often enjoy reduced fares and perks like onboard credits.
- Cruises are fairly all-inclusive, but the one thing that’s pretty much never included: drinks. Even soda can add up. Most cruises offer different tiers of beverage packages, starting with your basic soft drinks and going up to top-shelf alcohol.