Summer Travel Tips: 12 Ways To Maximize Travel Savings – Episode 106

How to save money on summer travel
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Has anyone else noticed how expensive summer travel is this year? With gas prices hitting digits we haven’t seen before, fuel prices driving up the cost of airfare, and the overall surge in domestic and international travel, travel this summer is pricey. So now is a great time to chat about saving money on summer travel, like tracking flight prices and tapping into the points and miles stash you’ve been hoarding over the last few years. Yeah, I’m looking at you! Here are some of my favorite summer travel tips to accumulate savings.

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Summer Travel Tips For Savings

Wondering how to save money on travel this summer?

Here are 12 tips to save money on travel broken down into three major spending categories: accommodation, transportation, and activities.

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1. Book hotels with bundled perks

So let’s talk about lodging first.

Book hotels with free parking and complimentary breakfast.

Free parking can save you anywhere from $15+, and depending on your breakfast preferences, I imagine you’ll probably spend that much per person too.

As a rule of thumb, whenever you’re looking at hotels, see if it’s possible to get free parking, complimentary breakfast, and other valuable perks.

Another travel hack: book directly on the hotel website vs a third-party booking platform. Often hotels have special discounts or perks for booking directly, plus the hotelier receives a greater percentage of the nightly rate.

2. Redeem free hotel nights

Using travel rewards for summer travel can be a great way to save money and make your summer vacation more affordable.

Whether you’ve accumulated points and miles through a travel credit card or loyalty program, taking advantage of these rewards is important.

Stop hoarding points and miles and other travel perks you’ve accumulated. Spend what you have available to you this summer instead of your own money.

For example, we decided to spend one night away a few towns over, and we redeemed a free night stay with an award certificate I received with my Marriott Bonvoy credit card.

Here’s the thing, we didn’t wait for the perfect extravagant trip to use our perks.

Use your rewards and stop looking for the perfect scenario to cash them in. The whole point of accumulating points and miles is to use them toward travel expenses, right? So as travel expenses are getting much more expensive, now is the time to redeem.

In addition to redeeming those free hotel nights, some credit cards reimburse you for travel purchases.

For example, the Capital One Venture Card allows you to get reimbursed for travel expenses, effectively reducing the money you spend on travel.

As summer travel becomes more expensive, rewards can help offset some of the costs and free up cash for other expenses. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, maximize your rewards and enjoy a more affordable summer travel experience.

3. Use points and miles to pay for flights and hotels, fully or partially

Another summer travel hack is using your points and miles to fully or partially pay for flights and hotels. Instead of paying for your entire trip out of pocket, you can use your rewards to cover some or all expenses.

However, it is important to note that using your rewards is not always financially sensible. If the number of points or miles required to redeem a flight or hotel stay is too high, it may be more cost-effective to pay for it using cash instead.

4. Track flight prices

Use Google Flights to track flight price fluctuations. Get email updates and alerts when the price changes. By tracking prices over time, you can identify when there is a price drop and take advantage of the lower fares. Save money on your summer travel by booking flights at the most affordable times.

5. Get cheap flights sent to your inbox

Deals are selling out fast this summer, so stay in the show by joining Thrifty Traveler Premium.

Thrifty Traveler Premium notifies you when a great deal pops up.

If you want to learn more about finding cheap flights, listen to Episode 70, where I chatted with the CEO and founder, Jared Kamarowski, who shared how to find the best flight deals and why Thrifty Traveler Premium is worth the annual subscription.

Sign up for Thrifty Traveler Premium: use the promo code ‘TC10’ for $10 off your first year of Thrifty Traveler Premium.

6. Expand flight search to all nearby airports

Another way to save money on summer travel is to search for flights from multiple nearby airports. By expanding your search parameters, you may be able to find cheaper flights from airports that are a bit further away. While there may be some cons to this, such as longer travel times to and from the airport, it is worth considering if it can lead to significant savings.

7. Pack light

Packing light is a travel hack that can help you save money while avoiding delays.

By packing only what you need and avoiding checked baggage, you can save time and money at baggage claim. This can be especially beneficial if you travel by plane, as it reduces the risk of lost luggage and can help you avoid additional fees for checked bags.

If you want a slim and multipurpose lightweight backpack that packs like a suitcase, I recommend Knack Bags. I’ve been using mine for staycations, business trips, road trips, and as a personal item when flying. You get a free TSA-approved lock with your purchase when you use the promo code ‘TTCKNACK’ at checkout.

7. Spend fewer days

Spending fewer nights is another way to reduce travel costs this summer.

I first discovered this trick in Iceland since Iceland is a pricey destination.

When comparing, the costs of a seven-day Iceland trip versus three or four nights made a big financial difference. So consider spending fewer days and nights away from home as a way to spend less.

8. Travel closer to home

Instead of flying, consider driving or train travel.

One of the top 2023 travel trends, train travel, is rising in popularity. It’s a more affordable and eco-friendly option compared to flying or driving. By choosing a location closer to home and accessible by train, you save on transportation costs.

9. Prioritizing free activities and attractions

Many cities offer free museum nights or special deals that allow you to explore and enjoy the destination without spending much money. Additionally, hiking and self-guided walking tours are some of my favorite free activities that can provide a great way to experience a destination and connect with nature.

10. Shop at local grocery stores

Visiting local grocery stores and stocking up on snacks and pre-made foods is another money-saving tip. By eating out less and having affordable food options, you can reduce your dining expenses and allocate funds toward other aspects of your trip.

10. BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage)

Finally, bringing your alcoholic beverages, or BYOB, is another great way to save money this summer. Pre-game at your lodging before heading out or skip the expensive drinks at bars or restaurants altogether.

Summer travel can be more affordable and enjoyable by utilizing travel rewards, comparing and tracking prices, and booking deals quickly, among the many other saving strategies shared here. So, start planning your epic summer getaway today while staying within your budget.

Listen to this podcast episode on Spotify.

Noteworthy Quotes

  • [5:37] Use your rewards and stop looking for the perfect scenario to cash them in.
  • [6:26] Use what you have. At some point, you need to stop hoarding your points and go out there and travel.

Other Episodes You’ll Enjoy

How To Get Free Hotel Upgrades with Julia Menez – Episode 79

How Flight and Hotel Pricing Works – Episode 78

Affording Luxury Travel with Nadeen White – Episode 32

Have any summer travel tips to share? What are other ways you save money on travel?