6 Strategic Ways To Save On Summer Travel This Year

Get away – but don’t blow your budget.

If you’ve been struggling with cabin fever and procrastinating your work every chance you get by researching your next vacation, you’re not alone. It’s the dead of winter in year # 2 of the pandemic, and we’re all dreaming of far-away lands, beaches with turquoise waters, and the simple thrill of being anywhere but your zip code.

But here’s the thing: We’re all dreaming of a summer getaway… And airline, hotel and rental car companies know this. Which is why there’s a chance this summer’s getaway could cost you if you’re not careful. It’s reasonable to expect a surge in rates this summer – even starting as early as this spring. When I asked Amy Vale, the chief marketing officer at Dosh, she said hotel occupancy in March was averaging the highest it’s been in more than a year. And flights are following a similar uphill climb. “After being cooped up, people are itching to get out and take that vacation or meet up with family – and as the demand for travel builds, so are the prices,” Vale shared.

So how can you save a pretty penny – and still enjoy being out-of-office? By following these secrets of the trade from me, as well as other experts:

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Book now …

It’s almost March. And the first day of summer is less than three months away. So that vacation you’ve imagined for a while now isn’t quite as far-fetched as it once seemed. That’s why it’s essential to start planning and booking ASAP to avoid overspending. “Hotel prices are already rising in sync with increased interest in travel among Americans,” says Sarah Moore, the vice president of brand marketing at Red Lions Hotels Corporation.

To compare prices for your next adventure, try Priceline, Kayak, Travelocity or even Google Flights / Hotels. But when you’re ready to pull the trigger, head to the airline or hotel’s website and sign up as a customer. Not only is this free, once you’ve signed up as a customer, you’ll be eligible to earn points over time. You’re also more likely to be upgraded to a lovely suite or business class when you book directly. If you’re flexible with your budget and timing, consider setting up a price alert that will give you a head’s up when a rate has changed. Last but not least? For those who are comfortable waiting until the last minute to book accommodations, apps like Tonight Hotel allow you to save up to 50 percent at luxury hotels. The only catch is you can only book one to two days in advance!

… But make sure you understand the cancellation policy

You’ve heard it constantly throughout the pandemic, but it’s worth mentioning again: read the fine print. While many hotel chains, airlines and tourism services have relaxed their cancellation policies, there are still restrictions that could impact your ability to be refunded. Particularly if you’re planning to travel abroad to Europe, border closings and case spikes can happen without warning, so it’s better to be over-prepared. When in doubt, give the hotel or the airline a ring to understand what you’re signing up for when you book. Better yet, get it all in writing.

Reconsider the most popular summer destinations

As Moore explains, accommodations in regions near beaches and national parks are in high demand, given their natural ability to provide wide-open spaces outdoors. So rather than flocking to the traditional (and thus jam-packed) summer destinations, think outside the box. Maybe you could book a hotel that’s several miles away from the action, so you can afford to do more while you’re visiting. Or, set your sights on a spot that’s having its off-season and won’t be as expensive. You could also consider an Airbnb that has a pool of its own, so you can have the hotel amenities at a much cheaper price.

If you can, stay longer

Particularly when you’re booking a rental home or an apartment on a site like Vrbo or Airbnb, the more nights you book, the more you save. The host is usually happy to negotiate with you if you’re staying longer than a week because it’s less turnover for them, which means less hassle with cleaning, key-handoff, and more. The same is true for most hotel chains that often offer discounts for a seven-night (or more) booking. And we’re not suggesting you take vacation days for all this time – if you have the ability to work remotely with WiFi, then don’t be shy about taking your laptop along for the ride. You might be surprised how much good a change of scenery will do you.

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