5 Ways to Save Money on Summer Vacation
Do your research
Compare and contrast to increase your saved money on your vacation. From holiday weekends to tourist hot spots, planning a low-cost summer vacation requires knowing what your wallet should avoid -- and when.
"Be flexible," says AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter. "If you don't have your heart set on one particular place, you can look at different destinations to see what can be most affordable.
"Sometimes, leaving a day before or a day after your original itinerary can provide cost-saving opportunities," Hunter says.
From lower airfare to less-expensive hotel rates, traveling on different days of the week can result in big price differences. With an assortment of travel websites, travelers can search to determine which days and destinations fit into their price range.
However, Hunter cautions travelers against devoting endless hours of research to save a few dollars. "If you wait too long and do too much research, you may lose out on some good rates," she says.
While the past few years have included some especially rewarding deals to lure recession-wracked travelers, there may not be as many discounts this summer because more people are already traveling.
"If you see a good rate, you should jump on it," Hunter says.
Get down with the discount
From hotels to airlines to gas stations, travelers can find additional saving opportunities for summer vacation through a wide range of customer loyalty programs.
Marriott spokeswoman Laurie Goldstein says travelers can enroll in the hotel chain's reward program for free. For each dollar spent at a Marriott hotel or resort, program members can earn up to 10 hotel points or two air miles that can later be redeemed for free hotel stays or flights on more than 30 airlines. Many other hotel chains offer free loyalty programs, too.
Travelers also can join annual fee-based programs to enjoy additional discounts.
AAA offers exclusive savings to its members at more than 160,000 locations worldwide, including hotel discounts ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent. Membership costs vary, depending on the type of membership and accompanying benefits.
"AAA members are eligible for hotel and travel discounts, and in order to attract visitors, hotels may offer a free breakfast or an additional discount for booking an additional night," Hunter says.
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