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While in the middle of a seemingly endless, blisteringly cold winter, there is little more enticing than the idea of a cheap summer getaway.
On the cusp of tourist season, it can be challenging finding vacation deals that do not either immediately sell out or cost a fortune.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re home-bound or stuck staying domestic this summer.
Make sure to consider these seven tips for an affordable, yet still adventurous getaway:
1. Pass on the “typical” summer tourist destination spots and head south.
While destinations such as London, Paris, Toronto or Reykjavik allure families and backpackers alike with their mild temperatures and bustling summer activities, they are consequently considered high-traffic summer destinations.
That means flights and accommodation in these destinations, which are less popular during the winter, will cost hundreds of dollars more during the summer.
If you can take the sweltering sun, you can save hundreds by flying toward the equator to destinations such as the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Mexico and other places experiencing a lighter tourism season during the months of May to August.
Remember, you’ll be at the beach or in the pool most of the time, so pack sunscreen!
2. You might want to reconsider going on a three-day weekend.
It’s undoubtedly attractive to use a three-day weekend for travel. It’s convenient for everyone, does not require you to miss work and makes you feel less guilty about spending your holidays at home.
But if you have vacation days, use those for summer travel instead.
Prices for Memorial Day travel, Fourth of July travel and Labor Day weekend travel skyrocket above regular market value because of the high demand for travel during these lucrative three-day weekends.
If you have unused PTO, you can save hundreds on flights to the same destination you were considering anyway.
If you are adamant about using your holiday days, leave on a Thursday or come back on a Tuesday, and you will most likely save money not traveling on peak holiday fares.
3. Swallow your pride and fly a budget airline.
You cringe at the thought of taking that $200 Spirit flight. We get it.
The “no frills” fare horror stories are enough to deter many travelers from giving budget airlines a chance, but for a short trip, they are phenomenal in saving money.
Bring only what you will wear, pack light and grit and bare a couple hours of being in close proximity to the person sitting next to you on the airplane.
It’s worth the getaway.
4. Don’t confine yourself to “English friendly” destinations.
Language barriers can be huge deterrents of travel, especially for Americans who are virtually unexposed to learning different languages.
Likely, your dream destination is full of friendly locals who may not necessarily speak perfect English.
But with some mutual gesturing and broken phrases in each other’s languages, they will want to help you communicate with them.
Pick up a phrase book, stop hiding behind the comfort of an all-inclusive resort and book a $30 a night Airbnb in a cheaper, local, yet still safe part of where you’re visiting.
Not only do you get a more local, authentic traveling experience, but you also save money for other traveling activities.
5. Skip the all-inclusive and go local for food and drinks.
Again, skip the all-inclusive resort package. Likely, the tropical or exotic destination you had in mind is full of locals who create incredible and reasonably priced food and drinks.
A great way to not overpay is to stop thinking in the scope of US dollars. For example, tourist spots know that in your mind, a reasonably priced cocktail is $9, and consequently, they charge you $9 or the equivalent in local currency.
But in reality, in that country, a reasonably priced cocktail cost the equivalent of $5.
See how that could add up? Prior research is pivotal to ensuring you don’t overpay.
6. Fly to and from the cheapest airports, and use ground transportation to other destinations.
Just because you want to go to Vieques, Puerto Rico from Washington DC does not necessarily mean you should buy a plane ticket from Washington, DC to Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Buy a plane ticket to San Juan, a significantly cheaper airport, and take a bus.
Comparing the initial fly-in prices for destinations and hopping around if necessary can help travelers save drastically on transportation costs, and they will likely get to see more for less. Make sure to book deals sooner rather than later, despite the urge to wait to see if the price goes down. Once the t-shirts and shorts start coming out, summer is the only thing on the brain, and travel companies know this. That’s why flights to your dream destination will surge in price come May. Start looking at summer travel in February, March and April to save on accommodation and airfare.
7. Follow airlines, travel bloggers and other travel and tourism industry members on their social media.
The first step in scoring an unbelievable travel deal is knowing about an unbelievable travel deal.
Unless you work in the travel industry or are connected with people within it, there is a strong likelihood you’ll either miss or be late on some of the most lucrative, limited-time travel deals.
Stay in the know by connecting with these travel industry influencers on social media, and once in a while, you’ll be able to find a mind-boggling deal before it’s gone.