How To Save Money on a Last-Minute Summer Getaway

group of friends spending time together at the beach.
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After taking more than a year off from vacationing, it seemed pretty appealing to travel again. But then, life got in the way, the news got scarier, and you figured it wasn’t going to happen this year. Now, you’re at a critical point where you’re ready to go absolutely anywhere for a couple days this summer —  provided the money makes sense.

Here are some tips to save money on your spur of the moment getaway. 

Find Out: 13 Insider Secrets From Travel Agents That Will Save You Money

Be Flexible

It’s well-known that weekend prices are going to be higher than weekday prices, so if it’s possible to be flexible with your dates, try to plan your trip on weekdays. That way, hotel and airfare will be cheaper.

Speaking of airfare, another way to save money is to book a one-way flight. Brian Dean, Founder of Exploding Topics, said looking into one-way tickets is more cost effective than round trip booking, and opens up other possibilities for payment.

“If you don’t have enough reward points or miles to cover the entire round trip airfare, you can use them to pay for one leg of the journey.” Additionally, if you have a travel credit card, don’t forget to see how far your points or miles will go to help you save a few dollars on the trip. 

Learn More: Cheap Places To Travel On $100 a Day Or Less

Wait Until the Very Last Minute

Playing it by ear isn’t a common recommendation when it comes to planning for a vacation, but for quick trips, it’s a trick comes in handy. Often, booking accommodations the same day you need them is cheaper than booking them weeks in advance.

Make Your Money Work for You

Apps like HotelTonight offer last-minute deals on rooms that haven’t yet been claimed for the night — often at huge discounts. As long as you don’t have your heart set on staying at a particular place, you can get a good deal and save more money for sightseeing and activities. You may even end up in a hotel that you wouldn’t have been able to afford if you’d planned in advance.

You can also find last-minute and “one night only” deals on sites including Priceline and Hotwire.  

Travel Prep: 10 Financial To-Dos Before Going on a Trip

Plan a Spending Limit For Each Day

Even if the planning of the vacation was a little loose, the budgeting should be tight. Before you go, figure out exactly how much you’re going to spend per day, and then stick to it.

Ryan Dalal, the Founder and CEO of Merge PDF, has a hack to make this method more tangible. “Make a batch of envelopes with the dates of each vacation day written on the outside. Use only the cash or gift cards in the envelope for that day, and if there’s any leftover, put it in the envelope for the next day,” Dalal recommended.

This may feel a little restrictive to some, but a spending limit ensures that you won’t be hit with a surprise on your credit card bill when you get home. You may even feel more encouraged to live like a local rather than only visiting tourist attractions.

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Make Your Money Work for You

Don’t Pay for Travel Insurance

Did you know that if you have a credit card, you might already have travel insurance?

“A lot of credit cards automatically give you travel insurance in case your flight gets delayed, the airline loses your baggage, or you can’t make the trip for specific reasons,” travel blogger Martin Soto said. The same credit cards might also include rental car insurance, eliminating one more cost that could add a few dollars to your fun budget. Check with your credit card company before you go so you can avoid overpaying on insurance fees. 

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