6 ways to save more money on this year’s summer travel

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If a summer adventure is on your agenda, looking for ways to save can greatly benefit your monthly budget. Unless you’re not carrying a dime of credit card debt, you have a fully stocked emergency fund, and your retirement savings are way ahead of schedule, your overall personal economy likely needs a boost. Enjoying your leisure time is essential, but not at the expense of your financial responsibilities. To make your summer getaway more affordable, check out the following six tips:

1. Book and Fly at the Right Time
Booking your air travel at the right time can save you significant money. Track flights as soon as your plans are in place through a website like TripAdvisor. Since most of the sales offered by airlines run from Sunday through Thursday, avoid booking your travel on weekends. And, for the most part, traveling early in the week (Tuesday or Wednesday especially) can generally net you a better fare.

2. Save on Entertainment Expenses
Check out a deal of the day website like Groupon or LivingSocial for big savings at restaurants, spas, and other fun activities. Just enter in the zip code where you’re going to be traveling and see what’s on offer. You may find discounts up to 50% off for a host of entertainment options in your destination city. 3. Cut Your Food Bill
There are a variety of ways to save on food while traveling. For example, choose a hotel with a kitchenette — or at least a fridge and microwave — and cook some of your meals in the room. Venturing out three times a day on a week-long vacation can add significant costs to your vacation bill.

4. Find a Hidden Gem
Instead of setting out to the most popular vacation destination, look at options off the beaten path. Here in the south, I’ve taken trips to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA and have saved big money compared to what a vacation at Disney World or South Beach would have cost. Check out your state’s tourism website and save significantly by sticking closer to home.

5. Get to Know the Local Citizens
Whether you’re the most sociable person in the world or more on the shy side, it pays to put forth some extra effort when you travel. Chat up the hotel concierge, and strike up conversations with local baristas and residents. You may be surprised by the pearls of wisdom you receive on how to save at local entertainment venues, eateries, and more.

6. Negotiate Your Hotel Room Rate
Inquire about occupancy rates, and if they’re down, leverage that to your advantage. If amenities cost extra, see if you can get those thrown in gratis. When you book your room, contact the hotel directly to inquire about these discounts rather than going through a generic 1-800 number.

Final Thoughts
Summer inherently means vacation to a lot of people, but don’t lose sight of looming costs like back-to-school supplies, Fourth of July celebration, and Labor Day weekend. Always keep costs in the forefront of your mind when you’re traveling this summer and your wallet is going to thank you for it year-round.

What are your travel plans for this summer?

David Bakke writes about saving tips for travel, food, shopping, and more on the financial blog, Money Crashers.

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