Prices are rising faster than they have in 40 years. As of March, inflation was up 8.5% year over year. That marks the biggest increase since 1981. And prices are up across the board, from energy to food. With no end in sight, you might be wondering whether your budget has room for summer travel.
Though a summer vacation will likely cost more in 2022 than in years past, it’s possible to save money with some smart planning. Here’s how to fight the effects of inflation this summer, according to travel experts.
Aim for Off-Season
Summer is the busiest season for many renowned vacation spots. So you might get a better deal by visiting a region that doesn’t receive a lot of summer traffic, according to Jenny Ly, founder at Go Wanderly. “Forego the buzzed-about European holiday in favor of a country or continent with just as many amazing possibilities,” she said. Or instead of the beach, consider a ski resort, many of which are just as spectacular in the summer.
Time Your Booking
In general, the earlier you book your flight, the better. However, it is possible to book too early. “If at all feasible, purchase tickets 50 to 100 days before the trip,” Ly recommended. The day you book can also make a big impact on price. Ly added that airlines normally fix their pricing on Tuesday mornings, so the best offers tend to be found at about 3 p.m. that day. “Fly in the middle of the week, get one-way tickets and enjoy an extended layover,” she said.
Cash In Your Points
The past couple of years have involved travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders, meaning 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 — plus the ways that you can redeem them. Keri Baugh of the 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 reward points, we can cash them in to either erase travel purchases after the fact, use them to book travel, or cash them in for gift cards for Hotels.com and even gas stations,” she said. Don’t forget to check individual hotel and airline rewards programs, too.
Ly said that if you can avoid checking any luggage, you’ll save money and time. “It’s generally true to say, carry twice as much money and half as many clothes as you think you’ll need.” Before you go, it’s also a good idea to check your airline’s weight limits and weigh your bags to make sure they don’t exceed them.
Follow the Six-Block Rule
Food can be a significant expense when traveling. So when you arrive at your destination, be sure to locate a local grocery store or market. “Get creative and come up with meals or snacks that you can eat on the road with minimal preparation time,” Ly said. Of course, you’ll want to try the local cuisine, too. In this case, Ly suggested you avoid eating within six blocks of a major tourist destination to get the best deals on dining.
Motels and Airbnb aren’t your only option for saving on lodging. Baugh recommended getting adventurous and staying at campgrounds, at least for one or two nights. For example, many beaches also have campgrounds nearby, allowing you to combine the fun of camping while also enjoying a waterfront vacation.
Look For Discount Cards and Passes
If you plan to visit a major city, Baugh said you should look into buying a CityPass, which can give you multiple entries to a variety of attractions at a significant discount. Or if you plan to visit more than one national park this summer, she suggested purchasing the U.S. Parks Pass, which gets you entrance to most U.S. national parks and numerous historical sites for $85 a year.
More From GOBankingRates