Summer Travel on the Cheap: Money-saving tips you might have missed
The summer travel season is upon us! Are you freaking out a little about how you’re going to afford a vacation you’ll actually enjoy? We’re here to help! Whether you’re keeping it close to home this year, traveling around the country, or adding a new stamp to your passport, we’ve got some helpful and sometimes overlooked tips on how to have a great summer vacation on a budget. Hop aboard the savings shuttle and choose your destination below!
Image Source: Buzzfeed
Terminal 1: Hometown happiness
If you’re on a strict budget this summer, or you have a large family with complicated schedules, it might be best to look in your own backyard for affordable fun that’s easy to get to. Depending on where you live, there may be local pools, museums, farmer’s markets, town carnivals, or other activities that can feel like a getaway if you have the right mindset.
Before you write off a bit of local fun, picture yourself 10 or more years down the road, and imagine the memories you could be creating this summer for that future you. What can feel quaint, overdone, or even boring today might feel downright nostalgic for you in the future as you and others age or move away, so take advantage of it while you can!
Terminal 2: Domestic departures
Perhaps you’ve been tracking your spending this year and saving up for a trip a bit farther afield, like a journey across the country. If domestic air travel is on your agenda this summer, here are some things to consider as you finalize your budget:
- Set fare alerts: If you’re flying but haven’t booked just yet, you absolutely must start tracking fares now! With Google Flights, you can look up routes for your planned travel dates, and be alerted to real-time price changes that could save you big bucks!
- Don’t pack too much: The cheapest domestic airlines are notorious for extra fees, and if you haven’t flown in a long time, you may be shocked at the cost of bringing a single carry-on! Instead of handing your hard-earned cash over to airlines, pick up some tips from the OneBag minimalist packing community on Reddit. You’ll save money and time by not needing the baggage claim. (HOT TIP: Check ahead on what dimensions your airline expects for a “personal item” before you even pick which bag to bring!)
- DO pack snacks: Neither domestic airlines and nor airports are known for affordable eats and drinks, so be sure you’ve got snacks in your bag for the boarding area and flight, perhaps a PBJ or And instead of buying overpriced bottled drinks in the terminal or on the plane, carry an empty water bottle with you and fill it up after you get through security. Unsatisfying, but surely the food at your destination will be both cheaper and more delicious than a USD $10 airline snack box!
Terminal 3: International departures
Heading overseas this summer, eh? Brilliant! Fortunately, international airlines are not as stingy about baggage, snacks, or drinks, but you should definitely set up fare alerts, and minimalist packing is a golden suggestion no matter where you travel. Still, here are some special tips for international travelers hoping to spend a little less this year:
- Stay outside the city center: If you’re traveling to a major international city this summer, you’ve probably already discovered that hotel stays downtown cost an arm and a leg. What’s more, prices for restaurants and other services around hotels are always marked up, cutting even more into your travel budget. Expand your search to the edges of the city, or consider a lower-cost city nearby for your lodging. Even with added travel costs into the tourist areas, you’ll still be saving money.
- Rent an Airbnb with a kitchen: Whether you stay downtown, in the suburbs, or even in the countryside, consider looking at Airbnbs that feature adequately equipped kitchens so you can prepare your own meals. There’s no better way to get to know another country than through its markets (even supermarkets), you’ll spend less than you would on dining out, and you’ll have the chance to try ingredients you’d never see at home.
- Research local transportation & bike programs: Many cities around the world have efficient and affordable local transport options, which may come as a surprise to some travelers. While Uber and its regional counterparts may tempt you, they tend to be the highest-priced options. Take some time before your trip to search for keyword combinations like “tourist travel pass” (Paris example) or “city bike tourist pass” (Buenos Aires example) for your destination, and you may discover an affordable discount travel card with international travelers in mind.
- More things to research: While you’re looking up local transportation, you should also be considering other expenses you’ll need for your trip. Plan ahead, and you could avoid unexpected outlays for things like on-site airport fees, currency exchange, ATM fees, local SIM cards, elevated prices for foreign visitors (possible in some tourist destinations), and tipping. And of course, find out about scams! Every international city has its own unique scams, so you’ll be wise to check out discussions on the city’s Reddit or search for related YouTube videos.
And there you have it! Of course, if you don’t have the time or the budget to enjoy a little fun this summer, or if you’re shivering down in the southern hemisphere right now, it’s not too late to start planning for the future. Take a look at our tips for saving up for that summer vacation you’re dreaming of, and bookmark this article so you’ll be ready when summer rolls around once more!