Pack your bags and get ready for summer vacation. Here are my best tips for saving on summer travel and keeping to a budget during the season of inflated travel prices.
1. Avoid buying too much car rental insurance
If you plan to rent a car, don’t make the mistake of buying too much car rental insurance. Before you leave, check your credit card insurance policies. Many credit cards include rental car insurance in their coverage.
2. Fine dining for much less
Here’s a little secret. If you enjoy fine dining but you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars per person for a meal, go for lunch. Many of the famous and top restaurants in Europe, and in the United States, offer very affordable lunch menus. Reserve in advance and make your lunch your major meal of the day. A price-fixed three-course lunch is often $30-$40 at a superb fine dining restaurant. Benefits of the lunchtime gourmet: significant cost savings on fine dining and it’s easier to get reservations at a Michelin-starred restaurant for lunch.
3. Swap your home
Home swaps are increasingly popular. In the best house swaps, meet the owners by Skype and ask lots of questions and ask for lots of photos. I’ve had people leave their membership cards to museums and detailed lists of their favorite restaurants as well as great places in the neighborhood to shop for meat, fresh veggies, and cheese. Benefits of a house swap: no accommodation costs, living like a local in a neighborhood, not a tourist and the comforts of a home.
4. Book a vacation rental property for family or group trips
When everyone is under one roof with a kitchen and common area for dining and relaxing together, it is a more intimate way to spend a holiday with family or friends. Benefits of a vacation rental: significant cost savings, relaxed meals without making reservations, leaving the condo or home, and you have control over the health and freshness of your food.
5. Research your destination
Start with the official website for the city or area you want to visit. Benefits of checking out an official tourism website: you will find links to the latest hotel discounts, special family deals, free days at the museums, farmer’s markets and free concerts.
6. Hotel hunt and last minute airline discounts
Airlines and hotels post social media specials on their social media channels, so check them often. Compare rates on your favorite hotel sites at sites like Hotels.com and Orbitz, both of which tout hotel sales. Compare airfares with Airfare Watch Dog.
7. Snag a weekend deal
Opt for a weekend for the best rates—when business hotels have lots of empty rooms. Consider staying in a nearby suburb where rates will be even cheaper and you won’t have to pay to park. Just make sure public transportation is convenient!
8. Breakfast included deals
Look for hotel deals that include free breakfasts. Look for restaurants with kids-eat-free dinner deals. Some hotel chains like Marriott or Hilton Garden Inn offer a discounted breakfast deal with a hot buffet with cooked-to-order eggs, fresh fruit and pancakes.
9. Discount Coupon Books
If you plan to take in a lot of the city sites, check out www.citypass.com, discount coupon books that not only will save you big bucks but allow you to bypass many lines.
10. Take public transportation
It’s not only “greener” but an adventure. Check out www.hopstop.com, one site that can help you get from A to C in several major cities