By Charlestien Harris
Is this your last summer travel hoorah? Traveling can get expensive if you don’t plan ahead, but there are still ways to enjoy an economical vacation this summer without breaking the bank! These are just suggestions, but if you consider them, they might be well worth your attention before making those summer travel plans! Let’s take a look at some of my suggestions.
Be flexible with your dates.
Timing, as usual, is everything. Avoid holiday weekends when rates tend to peak. If you want to snag the best deal, you’ll have to get a little creative with the days you travel. Try to be more flexible with your vacation schedule and avoid peak travel times, such as weekends and holidays. Booking your trip during weekdays or exploring “off” season destinations can often result in lower prices. Do your research to find out when the peak season is for your desired destination and try to avoid it. By traveling in the off-season, not only will you save money with off-peak rates, but you’ll also avoid the crowds and have a greater chance of finding last-minute accommodation.
Try visiting less popular destinations.
It’s summer, right? Most people head for the popular beaches like Miami, Hilton Head, Biloxi, and others. These highly visible places are on everyone’s radar, so try to visit less popular destinations like Opal Beach in Florida or Henderson Point Beach in Pass Christian, Miss. Popular tourist destinations tend to have higher prices during summer. Consider exploring less visited or offbeat locations that offer similar experiences but with lower costs.
Vacation close to home.
Flying or driving, transportation is a major travel expense that warrants careful research. The high cost of international and domestic airfare this summer can eat up any vacation budget. Instead of taking to the skies, consider destinations that you can reach by driving. Even with high fuel prices, you could save a bundle. Look for one-day trip possibilities and return home the same night to avoid lodging expenses. You can also look for destinations within a day or two’s drive and book an affordable hotel just outside the resort town. If your budget is really tight, try being a tourist in your hometown. Check out your local tour guidebook or map for your city. It’s often said that the best-kept secret is the one right under your nose.
Book direct to save on hotels, transportation, and vacation rentals.
Most times, when you book directly with a popular hotel chain, they can give you much better rates because they don’t have to tack on fees like commissions and other fees that a third-party vendor might charge. The same usually goes for vacation rentals. Many vacation rentals are managed by larger property management companies that also have their own direct websites. If you head to their website to book directly, you can save up to ten percent or more!
Booking package deals is a great way to save.
Now this is one that I have tried, and it does work! I booked a flight on a travel site and it offered me a discount if I booked a car rental at the same time. It also asked me to book a hotel room, which would have yielded a deeper discount, but I only needed airfare and ground transportation. I got a great deal and saved a ton of money by combining my travel arrangements into one booking. Often these packages are located at resorts, which come with extra perks as well. One benefit of booking at a resort is that there is a lot to do around it, and you have access to the beach, pool, saunas, hot tubs, etc., often at no extra cost. Be sure to check several sites before you book because they all have their “own” deep discount sales pitch, so you want to get the most bang for your buck!
It’s not too late! Summer savings on travel can still be achieved with a few savvy moves if you take them into consideration before completing your summer travel plans. Don’t get discouraged; get smart. The strategies mentioned above are just a few suggestions on how, when, and where to travel to stretch your vacation dollars this summer.
I am always looking for ways to save money, as it is one of the key ways to stay on track with your finances and possibly achieve the financial goals you set for yourself and your family.
For more information on this and other financial topics, you can email me at Charlestien.Harris@banksouthern.com or call me at 662-624-5776.
Until next week – stay financially fit!
Charlestien Harris is a financial contributor to DeSoto County News. She is a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles are seen in a number of publications around the region. You’ll be seeing her columns weekly on the DeSoto County News website and our social media channels.