Summer may seem far away (yes, it is still snowing in some parts of the country), but this reminder will warm your heart a bit: It’s time to start planning your awesome and affordable summer vacation.
Get going now, and take in these tips to get the best deals.
1. Plan ahead
Can’t stress this enough: If you haven’t already done so, lock in reservations to secure the lowest rates. That will also make it easier to cover associated costs without having to cough up a huge wad of cash at the last minute — or, even worse, resort to the magic plastic.
Consider looking at the best deals out there before deciding on your destination.
- Travel websites like ShermansTravel and Orbitz.
- Check the websites of major hotel chains, such as Hyatt and Choice Hotels.
2. Use rewards
Now’s the time to redeem all the rewards you have accumulated on your credit card or customer loyalty accounts for air travel and lodging.
I’ve done this for several years with Marriott points and saved a ton of money. In some instances, I’ve been able to earn extra nights simply for staying during select promotional periods. One summer, my family and I vacationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for five days without paying a dime for lodging.
If you’re in the market for a good rewards credit card, start your search here in our Solutions Center.
3. Avoid the crowds
Consider going somewhere that that’s off-season in summer — like Florida. Many snowbirds migrate back to their Northern homes in the summer months — while temperatures soar down South — and prices come down.
Also, ask your travel agent about less-crowded alternatives for the type of vacation you desire, and you’ll likely find a lower price.
4. Eat for cheap
Search for lodging with in-room kitchens, such as Residence Inn. Also, many hotels and bed-and-breakfasts include the first meal of the day in their rates.
If you decide to step out to grab a bite to eat, avoid the tip and extra add-ons — such as beverages and desserts — by ordering the food to go. Eat at your hotel room or make a picnic.
Also, check with the reservation desk in the hotel lobby and look online for coupons.
5. Vacation with friends and family
Why not skip the overcrowded, compact hotels and rent an entire house with a group of friends or family members? Not only is it an opportunity to spend time with those near and dear to you, but you will also save a ton of money with in-home amenities while entertaining one another for free.
We do this once a year, and the highlights of the trip typically include evening cookouts, pool parties and competitions in the game room. Even better, we usually save hundreds of dollars.
To learn more, see “7 Tips to Save Hundreds on Vacation Home Rentals.”