Summer’s here, which means time to load up the suitcases and buy some guidebooks to prepare for far-flung destinations. To get the most out of summer vacations, it’s important to do your homework and plan ahead to find the best deals on the best destinations.
Here are five summer travel tips that will help you have a good time and save some money:
1- Be Flexible
Some destinations such as Las Vegas offer much lower hotel room rates during the week due to decreased demand. Flexible travel dates will help you to find the best deals. Most hotels offer rate calendars that allow you to see the rates for the coming year. Use them to plot out the most value-focused summer trip. Tools such as Google Flights are another way to see the price flexibility in airfare based on travel dates.
Consider a summer trip towards the end of August to enjoy cheaper prices. Many schools are also back in session by the fourth week in August, so you can enjoy smaller crowds during this time or in September if visiting a location that’s popular with kids.
2- Compare Prices and Earn Rewards
Comparing pricing is an easy way to save money on summer travel. Use a mixture of aggregated booking sites and the hotel/airline/car rental company’s own site to perform comparisons. Some websites offer bundled pricing for cars, hotels, and flights, so it pays to view bundled pricing and then see if you can find discounts online.
While performing your searches, keep an eye on earning miles. Many hotel chains and car rental companies are partners with airlines, so you can grab extra miles without spending extra. For example, MGM-branded hotels in Vegas offer Southwest miles for every stay.
If you are considering a relatively expensive summer trip, then sign up for a travel rewards card that gives you a large bonus for spending a certain amount in the first few months. Pay the card off after your trip, and you just might earn enough points for a free winter vacation.
3- Use Apps and Tech
It’s difficult to imagine travel before the smartphone era. Modern travelers use Google Maps to plot their road trip or apps such as AroundMe to find ATMs, food, and even nearby hospitals. Many services and products such as the Lonely Planet guidebook series have moved to application formats, so they can offer dynamic content.
For managing summer flights, use FlightAware’s app that provides real-time data on flight status, arrival times, and expected departures. Traveling in Europe this summer? Download the Eurail Rail Planner App to make reservations and plan the most scenic routes. Vacation time is precious, so pick apps that help to streamline travel and save you time. Apps such as SkipLagged help you find connecting flights that are cheaper than booking to your final destination. You simply hop off the plan at the connection! Another fun app for summer travel is Dayuse, which allows you to book a hotel for a short amount of time, for example, during a lengthy airport layover. This short-term booking is often available for a fraction of the cost of a regular night.
To backup your passport and credit cards, take pictures of them with your smartphone and email them to yourself. This tips can save you hours of time and headaches in case you lose your wallet.
4- Check Physical Accessibility
If you’re traveling with someone with accessibility needs, be certain the hotel or other lodging can properly accommodate their requirements. While hotels and rentals offer marked “accessible” rooms, these descriptions are often be too vague and thus thoroughly reviewing accessibility claims prior to booking is a critical step in planning a successful vacation.
Sites such as Handiscover are catering exclusively to the handicapped population. The accommodation marketplace matches disabled travelers with vacation rentals and hotels, based on their level of physical mobility – you can walk short distances and handle a few stairs; you sit in a regular wheelchair and handle one step at a time; or you sit in a wheelchair that can handle only small thresholds. Whether you’re in need of a roll-in shower, bathroom with guardrails, or electric bed, each property is required to share a minimum of eight photos and detailed information on doorway thresholds, to ensure travelers are confident that an accommodation meets their needs.
5- Venture to Colder Climates
Summer is a great time to explore destinations that don’t involve only sitting on a beach. Consider a Scotland castle and golf experience, or visit some northern Canada cities for a blend of culture and the outdoors. San Francisco is often shockingly chilly in the summer, especially compared to southern and interior California, making it a great escape for people coming from a hotter climate. The Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay keep the city cool and shrouded in that famous fog.
For outdoors adventure without the sunburns, visit Olympic National Park in Washington, which features a temperate rain forest and stunning coastline.
Even with proper planning, summer travel can go haywire. Hurricanes can hit beaches, you can miss a flight. Flexibility and acceptance are key for moving past the inconveniences and focusing on relaxation.