Traveling with the family can get expensive, but following these tips will help you save big. (Photo: Thinkstock)
As we head swiftly towards summer, many people are pulling together their last minute vacation plans. In fact, according to a survey by Orbitz, more than two-thirds of Americans already have at least one trip planned for the season. And surprisingly, 36% are booking the cheapest rates possible — even if that includes layovers and delays along the way.
So in a time where people are looking to be as thrifty as possible on their vacation spending, Yahoo Travel has put together a list of tips to help you get the most bang for your buck when booking your trip this summer.
Timing is Everything
When it comes to booking a vacation, timing is everything. (Photo: Thinkstock)
If you have luxury to be flexible with the dates that you travel this is a really good way to make major cost savings.
“In terms of saving money, timing is everything,” explains Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor for Orbitz.com. “When you book your vacation can either cost you more or save you money. When we look at booking data we can figure out which weeks of each month are the cheapest times to travel.“
Statistics show that the best dates to aim for are the 1st week in June (1st-7th), the second week in July (6th-12th) and the last week in august (24th -31st).
"If you have the flexibility and your kids are out on summer vacation, going during those weeks can save you quite a bit of money,” said Tornatore.
Companies will often put exclusive discounts on their mobile apps. (Photo: Thinkstock)
A recent study showed that 57% of all travel bookings are now made online, with 65% of hotel bookings being made through the internet. But what you might not know is that making reservations online is great way to take advantage of cost savings passed down by the online retailers.
Sites like Groupon Getaways sell off heavily discounted vacation packages, many that include airfare. But there are other ways to snag some serious discounts.
"For hotels, look for promotion codes,” advises Tornatore. "A lot of people don’t think to look for these and it could save you an extra 15-20%. So always look on the deals page or the home page for any codes that could provide discounts.”
Another tactic is using a company’s mobile app, where they sometimes offer unique and exclusive discounts to customers booking this way.
“Many sites want to drive people to download these apps and use them while they are on the go so they will offer exclusive savings just for booking certain parts of your trip from your mobile device,” says Tornatore. “For example, Orbitz is offering exclusive rates for car rentals to those who download their app.”
Booking your hotel and flight together can save you big money. (Photo: Thinkstock)
A very simple way of saving money on your vacation is to book flights and hotels together, and many online sites offer these services.
Hotels especially will offer heavily discounted room rates when the trip is booked alongside a flight, and all paid for ahead of time.
“Combining a couple of component of your trip and booking it as a package is another big way to make huge savings,” explains Orbitz’s Jeanenne Tornatore. “You are always going to save by booking those things together as a package rather than booking your airfare and then going back to book your hotel later.”
Consider Hotel Alternatives
Don’t stay at an expensive lodge, rent your own cabin instead. (Photo: Thinkstock)
An increasingly popular alternative to staying in a hotel is the option to rent a privately owned apartment or house in your chosen destination. These are usually offered at a cheaper price than hotels, due to the lack of staff, amenities and services provided.
Websites like HomeAway or Airbnb have thousands of options all over the world for those looking for a more self sufficient vacation option. Private, direct to owner rentals can even give you the option to negotiate your rate, for the chance at an even bigger bargain.
May for things ahead of time, so you don’t over spend on vacation. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Many people are hesitant to book an all-inclusive vacation for fear of hidden extra costs or lack of flexibility when it comes to dining options. But if you read through all the fine print ahead of time so there are no surprises, booking an all inclusive trip can be a huge cost saving option.
“All-inclusive is a fantastic option,” agrees Tornatore. “If you have a certain budget in mind you are able to pay for everything up front and you don’t have extra costs once you get there. So for people who may have a hard time budgeting their vacation out when they are paying for things along the way, this is a fantastic option.”
According to Tornatore, if you do the math on meals and drinks on top of hotel stay it can be surprising what you can get for your money. “Some people see the price up front, like $200 a night per person, and they see that as being high, but when you consider that includes all your meals and drinks, sometimes it even includes excursions or activities on the resort, its actually a really great bargain.”
Look For Value Added
Kids eat free? We like the sound of that! (Photo: Thinkstock)
In order to entice you into booking, many hotels and resorts will offer additional services or options inclusive in the price. This can be a great way of minimizing the cost of extras during your trip.
“Look for hotels that offer kids stay free or kids eat free. You will see a lot of those types of value adds this season and they can make for some serious cost savings,” says Tornatore.
Value added are all those little things that a hotel is offering to bring you onto the property and win you over in comparison to their competitors. This includes things like free breakfast every day, free Wi-Fi, or credits for the spa and golf course. You’ll save big if you take advantage of these perks because they really add up!
Related: A Summer European Vacation Just Got a Lot Cheaper
Head to Europe
Scenic view of a colorful village in Cinque Terre, Italy. (Photo: Thinkstock)
If you have a trip Europe on your bucket list, now is the time to go. With the currency exchange for the dollar against the Euro and British pound at a five year low, it is now much more affordable to go.
But aside from the currency strength, prices for flights and hotels have also plummeted.
“We are seeing a big drop in prices on airfares to Europe,” says Tornatore. "Overall, airfare is down an average of 9% compared to last summer. And even to some of the bigger western countries, prices are down. For example, for trips to London average hotel prices are down 6% and airfare is down 9% while Paris has seen hotel rates drop 16% and airfare is down 18%. That adds up to huge savings.”
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