Summer Travel Tips on a Budget


Summer Travel Tips on a Budget

'Tis the season for summer travel! I know I've got a few trips lined up this summer and lucky for me, I have a seasoned budget traveler on my side - my boyfriend Brian is my go-to guy when I want to go on a quick getaway but want to save a few bucks - I swear, he can find a great flight in every budget! He memorizes flight schedules for fun. Needless to say, I thought he'd be perfect to write a post on budget summer travel. 

Flying tips

  • Fly early or late: It's best to fly very early (5-7am) or very late (9pm or later) flights not only tend to be cheaper, but they allow you to maximize a whole day in a location while only paying for one night at a hotel.

  • Fly on Saturday: Most business travelers fly to be home for the weekend and most leisure flyers want to start their vacation on Thursday or Friday, so Saturday often has the cheapest fares.

  • Don’t fly on Sunday: Thinking about doing a quick weekend getaway and returning Sunday night to be back at work by Monday? So is everyone else, which is why Sunday evening flights tend to be the most expensive of the week. Think about starting your weekend away with an early Saturday morning flight and returning on Monday evening.

  • Buy one-way tickets: It depends on where you’re flying, but look at buying two separate one-way tickets instead of a round trip ticket. This can not only be cheaper but can allow you more flexibility to get flights at the times you want, even if they aren’t on the same airline. The downside here is if you want to make a change to your itinerary you’ll need to pay a change fee to two separate airlines.

  • BE SURE of your travel plans: Speaking of change fees, almost all airline tickets are nonrefundable and cost at least $200 per person to make any change, so be sure of your plans before you book. One important note: the FAA requires airlines to allow a 24 hour grace period after you book if your flight is more than 7 days away, so if your plans do change be sure to cancel within that 24 hour window, unless you happen to be flying on the one U.S. airline that doesn’t charge change fees...

  • Fly Southwest: I’m a big fan of Southwest Airlines because they don’t charge any change fees and don’t charge you to check bags. Most southwest fares aren’t refundable but you can at least change your plans without paying an additional fee. If your plans are still in flux, consider looking at Southwest. Also, Southwest tickets often don’t show up on sites like Kayak, so remember to go to their website and look for your itinerary.

  • Decide on how much you are willing to spend: I find searching for cheap fares to be fun, but if this stresses you, out decide how much you’re willing to spend on your ticket and if you see an itinerary you like, book that. Airline ticket prices change all the time, practically by the second, and you can drive yourself crazy checking and re-checking. Go ahead and book for piece of mind if you see something you’re comfortable with.

useful sites

  • If you’ve flown domestically in the U.S., chances are you’ve connected at a big hub in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, or somewhere else. Did you know that airlines often charge more for tickets just to their hub than for tickets that connect through that hub? Skiplagged shows you flights that connect in your destination, and shows you how to book them if they’re cheaper. Note that there are some real risks with doing this which the website outlines, but I’ve done it several times and had no problems as long as you don’t have any checked bags.

  • Google flights and Kayak: These two sites are also useful for comparing across different travel sites

  • Priceline: I’m a big fan of Priceline’s express deals, which shows you the rough location and star rating of a hotel in your city but not its exact location or name. You can sometimes guess which hotel it is based on the normal Priceline results, and I’ve used this tool to book 4 star hotels for less than $100 per night

Do you have any travel tips? Leave them in the comments below!