Summer Escape on a Budget!

Summer is finally here! You’re deep into daydreaming about your next vacation away but before living out your fantasy, there is one daunting task ahead: settling on how much you can afford to pay during one of the most popular travel seasons.

If you are one of the 52 percent of Americans who are planning to take a vacation this summer, your budget is likely tight, according to a Bankrate survey. Those who plan to travel this summer expect to spend $1,979, on average, for a trip. But that kind of expense is tricky at best when considering another statistic: Only 40 percent of Americans said they would use their savings to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000.

So if you are still trying to save for your vacation, here are some tips to consider….

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend. First thing’s first: Establish your spending limit — the all-in number that you don’t want to exceed for your particular adventure. That is including your airfare, transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, activities. Keep the number realistic, so that you’ll have a firm idea of what your getaway will really cost.
  2. Be flexible on dates and travel destinations, and choose days wisely. If you’re flexible on specific dates and locations, you’re much more likely to get a decent fare than if you lock in a certain week or destination. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest travel days, while Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive.
  3. Search for credit card points you haven’t used. If you’re on the hunt for a discount on a flight or hotel, log in to your credit card account. Next, search for the points and rewards you may have already earned but not used. If you have unused points, apply them toward your travel costs. Don’t log out of your account just yet. Next, check to see if your credit card company offers card-linked deals. Some issuers offer discounts on, say, Airbnb and other travel-related costs, within their online portals. To get the discount, select the deal and then use the card.
  4. Find the best deal on a flight. Prices for flights are down 7 percent compared with the same time period two years ago, according to May data from the flight tracking app, Hopper. To get the best deal, you’ll still need to do your research as the price for the same route can vary up to 5 to 10 percent within a 24-hour period. or vacation routes, such as New York City to Hawaii, book the ticket four to six weeks before your ideal departure; the flight prices tend to drop as the time to departure gets closer.
  5. Book your hotel earlier than you think. Hotel prices are like flight prices: They vary based on when you book them. To get the best deal, you want to book a room sooner than you think. Also, scout for new hotels in the area you’re visiting to find the best deals. A lot of times when a new hotel opens, it offers really great deals in the first two to three months of operation to try to get people in to get those reviews.