Prices are rising faster than they have in 40 years. In March, inflation was up 8.5% year-on-year. This is the biggest increase since 1981. And prices are up in everything from energy to food. With no end in sight, you might be wondering if your budget has room for summer travel.
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Although summer vacations will likely cost more in 2022 than in the past, money can be saved with smart planning. Here’s how to fight the effects of inflation this summer, according to travel experts.
Aim for the off-season
Summer is the busiest season for many renowned vacation spots. So you might get a better deal by visiting an area that doesn’t get much summer traffic, according to Jenny Ly, founder of Go Wanderly. “Forgo the buzzing European vacation in favor of a country or continent with so many incredible possibilities,” she said. Or instead of the beach, consider a ski resort, many of which are just as spectacular in the summer.
Time of your reservation
In general, the earlier you book your flight, the better. However, it is possible to book too early. “If possible, buy tickets 50 to 100 days before travel,” Ly recommended. The day you book can also have a big impact on the price. Ly added that airlines normally set their prices on Tuesday mornings, so the best deals tend to be found around 3 p.m. that day. “Fly midweek, get one-way tickets, and enjoy an extended layover,” she said.
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Redeem your points
The past two years have involved travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders, which means you may have racked up quite a few unused travel points or miles. So before planning your trip, take stock of all your credit card rewards, as well as the ways you can redeem them. Keri Baugh of family travel blog Bon Voyage With Kids said her family plans to do just that this summer. “We have Capital One, and with our earned rewards points, we can redeem them to clear travel purchases after the fact, use them to book travel, or redeem them for gift cards for Hotels.com and even resorts- department,” she said. Don’t forget to check individual hotel and airline rewards programs as well.
Ly said if you can avoid checking bags, you’ll save money and time. “It’s generally true to say that you should carry twice as much money and half the clothes you think you need.” Before you leave, it’s also a good idea to check your airline’s weight limits and weigh your luggage to make sure it doesn’t exceed them.
Follow the six block rule
Food can be a major expense on a trip. So, when you arrive at your destination, be sure to locate a local grocery store or market. “Be creative and come up with meals or snacks you can eat on the go with minimal prep time,” Ly said. Of course, you’ll also want to try the local cuisine. In that case, Ly suggested you avoid eating within six blocks of a major tourist destination to get the best dining deals.
Motels and Airbnb aren’t your only option for saving on accommodations. Baugh recommended getting adventurous and staying in campgrounds, at least for a night or two. For example, many beaches also have campgrounds nearby, so you can combine the fun of camping with enjoying a vacation by the water.
Look for discount cards and passes
If you’re planning on visiting a major city, Baugh said you should consider buying a CityPass, which can give you multiple admissions to a variety of attractions at a steep discount. Or if you plan to visit more than one national park this summer, she suggested buying the US Parks Pass, which gives you access to most US national parks and many historic sites for $85 a year.
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