Pack Those Bags! How to Save on Vacation Costs

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Travel budgetIt has been a tough year and now you are ready to finally relax on your summer vacation. But with travel prices rising, especially airfares, your travel budget might be tight.

But there are some ways to cut costs so you can still afford to get away from it all.

Make sure to use online resources. ?Visit the area’s CVB website and the destination’s website before your trip to not only learn about the area surrounding your desired location but also details about the place itself,? advises Susan L. Storey, spokesperson for Great Wolf Resorts Inc. ?Consider what clubs you belong to–look to places like the AARP and AAA member websites for sites, resorts, attractions and landmarks that offer discounts to members.?

Check out what amenities are available at each destination. There may be hidden chances to save money with the right destination. Some resorts, such as Great Wolf Resorts, have a refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker in each room, which means you can stock up on snacks and even cook in your room to save on dining-out costs.

Online sources can also alert you to travel sales. ?Sign up for fare alerts and utilize social media. People may not want to be receiving a lot of emails, but fare alerts instantly let you know when a price for a certain flight has changed. On social media, a lot of companies post last minute ?fire sales? where prices can be slashed up to 50%,? says Mark Drusch Chief Supplier Relations Officer of CheapOair, an app and website that will search for cheap or unpublished airfares and also send out fare alerts.

Airfares: Say No to Sky-High Flights

With the various airline mergers fares have gone up?not down?due to decreased competition. But here are some tips on how you can cut costs on fares.

?To score the cheapest airfare, the best time to book domestic travel is 21-25 days before departure,? says Sarah Mitchell of travel search engine Kayak.com

Also, the time of summer you fly can mean a difference on your ticket price. For example, August will be the cheapest travel month this year.

Look for destinations that are featuring deals this year, such as Myrtle Beach, SC, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, and Kauai Island and Honolulu, Hawaii. ?They all saw some of the biggest airfare decreases since last year,? says Mitchell.

Knowing when to check for fares is equally as important. ?Airlines update their inventory and prices overnight, so the best time to check for fares is early in the morning. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are normally the best mornings to check for the fares,? offers Mark Drusch, Chief Supplier Relations Officer of CheapOair, an app and website that will search for cheap or unpublished airfares.

Hotels: Location is Key to Savings

Certain beach destinations have cheaper hotel offerings. ?Daytona Beach and Miami saw the biggest decreases in average hotel rate in the U.S. since last summer,? reveals Mitchell. ?Las Vegas is a strong option this summer – it is the #1 destination for hotel stays yet the average rate increased less than .5% since last summer.?

Jeremy Murphy of hotel intelligence engine TheSuitest.com agrees that the date can make all the difference.

?Avoid staying on dates where demand for your destination city is high,? says Murphy. ?Cities that cater to business travelers are often cheaper on the weekends?Washington, DC, for instance is on average 45% cheaper on Friday and Saturday nights than it is on Tuesday and Wednesday.? ? And according to Murphy, other cities, such as Las Vegas, are deeply discounted during the middle of the week. Also, during mid-week in Vegas resorts cane be less than $140 per night, compared weekends prices that can go $300 and upward per night.

To really save on hotel expenses?cut out the hotel totally. Take part in a home exchange instead. Basically you swap you home with other family. There are various agencies, such as Home Exchange and HomeLink International, which will help set this up for you. All you need to do is become a member for a nominal fee.

According to home Exchange expert Shelley Miller, you can swap home with people all over the world– France, Italy and Hong Kong. You will also be able to cut restaurant costs as you can dine at home. And some home exchanges will even let you swap cars during your stay. ?

Cars: Drive Off With Discounts

Forget airfares, and pack the family in the car and hit the road. ?Look close to home within a few hours’ drive from home,? suggests Storey. ?You can check out various websites/apps, like GasBuddy.com, to find the cheapest gas prices. And picking up snacks on the road doesn?t have to be expensive either. Hit the local grocery stores instead of truck-stop convenient stores and fast food restaurants along the highway.