Who’s down for some cheap vacations this year! Summer is almost here, and if you’re officially sick of chilly winter weather, we hear you. Which is why now is the perfect time to plan your summer vacation, so you have an adventure to look forward to as you suck up these last few weeks of unpredictable weather. And if you want to plan an epic getaway without an epic price tag, we’re here to help. After all, summer travel is on the rise, with more and more people using their precious vacation time for trips during the summer months. According to a recent survey by Citibank, “on average, consumers who are full-time employees save more than one-third (37 percent) of their vacation days for the summer season. What’s more, another 30 percent save more than half of their annual vacations days for the summer.” And thanks to the law of supply and demand, with so many people trying to travel, it can be hard to save money when you book your vacation. In fact, “nearly 60 percent of travelers say they still exceed their summer getaway budget each year.”
And while it can be easy to go over-budget, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to plan a trip without breaking the bank. There are tips and tricks to help you plan a memorable summer trip for you and your friends or family, and you’ll still have some money leftover to spend on whatever your heart desires—a bottle of scotch, tickets to a baseball game, or even your next adventure. Here are some clever ways to plan cheap vacations that will totally rock!
1. Plan a Road Trip
One of the fastest ways to jack up the price tag on your summer trip is to plan a voyage that requires airfare. Plane tickets can get really pricey and add on top of that the cost to check baggage and you’ll blow through your budget pretty fast. Instead, plan a trip to somewhere within driving distance and make the road trip a part of the adventure. Caravan with friends and choose a destination that is close enough so you don’t waste too much time on the road. Or better yet, map out several destinations along the way so every mile is a part of the adventure. And if you don’t want to be bothered with driving but you do want to travel, you can book an adventure by train or bus using services like Wanderu.
2. Stay with Friends or do a House Swap
Save money on hotel rooms or home rentals, and instead do a home swap with friends. Reach out to friends or family members you can trust and who share your lifestyle and general values regarding home habits. After all, if you’re going to stay in their home you want to know it’s in good condition. And similarly, they’ll be staying in your home, and you don’t want them to trash the place. (Unless you plan to trash theirs, and then, by all means, go for it.)
3. Look for Summer Steals and Deals
Most online travel websites, travel agencies and even credit card rewards programs offer special deals for summer trips. Do your research before you book anything. Some sites offer one free night with a 4-night stay, and some have room rates locked in with specific resorts or hotel chains. Ask around, call your credit card rewards help desk and read up online to find the best deals for the season.
4. Look for Off-Season Destinations
Traveling to the most popular destinations is a guaranteed way to over-pay on your summer trip. After all, hotels and airlines aren’t stupid. They know when they can charge more and get away with it, and if you try to book one of those top 10 vacation destinations you’ll be forced to pay more than you would like. Instead, look into lesser known escapes or resorts and cities that are considered to be off-season.
5. Go Camping
Camping is a fun way to bond, explore, disconnect, unwind and have fun, without spending much money at all. Of course camping can get pricey—between the gear, access to camp grounds and travel you can spend plenty of money on a camping trip as well. But if you plan a trip with friends who are seasoned campers and who already have the experience and equipment you need, you can have a memorable getaway without spending a penny on room or board.
6. Book a Cruise
Cruise companies are always having special deals, especially during summer months when it’s not peak season to visit the Caribbean or during hurricane season. Check out offers and savings so you can get the most bang for your buck with a cruise this summer. Plus, the best part about cruises is that you can see a lot and do a ton without ever the ship.
7. Waive Travel Insurance
While it might seem risky, in some instances you can waive travel insurance to save some money on your trip. If you are booking a vacation last minute or close to your departure date, and if you know that everyone in your party will be healthy and accounted for, then you can choose to not pay the travel insurance fees. Those fees add up quickly and typically that money goes down the drain.
8. Be Flexible About Your Timing
If you are willing to be flexible about what days of the week you travel and what times of day you fly, you can find cheaper deals on airfare and hotel stays. Try to search for vacations based on where you want to go, not what days you want to depart and return. Then from there you can seek out the best offers, which will usually be mid-week and not around a weekend.