Summer means no school, a (hopefully) lighter workload, and all the possibility of an epic vacation. But you’re not the only one with the urge to take a summer trip, which means you’ll have to battle expensive travel and hotel rates while you plan, as well as dense crowds when you arrive.
Here’s a handy guide to hunting down the best travel deals and avoiding the packed tourist traps this season:
ExploreYou’re probably aware that Kayak.com is a great resource for finding low flight, hotel and car rental rates if you know where you’re going. What you may not know is that the site offers an equally helpful resource for those who are still undecided about their travel plans.
The “Explore” function on Kayak, found under the “More” button at the top of the screen, allows you to set your home airport and select a month or season for travel. Then Kayak will populate a world map with flight prices from your airport. Click on a city that the site highlights and see the date range during which flights start at the rate displayed. From there, what are you waiting for?! Book it.
If you’re on the fence about flying, look into a gas cost calculator so you can decide if driving is a better option. Fueleconomy.gov lets you enter the make, model and year of your car as well as the route you’ll be traveling to find out approximately how much you’ll spend on gas.
If you have an Instagram account, you can search for photos that have been geo-tagged with your vacation destination. Use these to get ideas for what unexpected areas you can discover.
Summertime is the heaviest season for tourism in many cities around the world, so hotel costs are at a premium. Instead of going the traditional hotel route, consider using services like AirBnB, which lets you stay in a local’s house (with the homeowner setting the rate), or HotelTonight, an app that offers low rates for last-minute booking.
Get off the beaten path
Sure, the sites of any given destination are probably worth checking out. But if you want to avoid the crowds and get a glimpse of life as a local, try to find a local newspaper, or read over city’s Eater.com page, which will be packed with information on new restaurants and old standbys in the area.
Going on a group trip? Track the group’s spending with an app like SplitWise. At the end of the vacation, it’ll be easy to determine who you owe money to and who owes you.
Does the city or town you’re visiting have a subway system, or other public transit infrastructure in place? Tourists often write public transportation off as too complicated to navigate for a short stay, but these systems can be deceptively easy to master and they can save you money you’d otherwise spend on taxis or gas. Do a little research online before your trip to get an idea of the metro, light rail or bus systems available at your destination.
With these tricks, you’ll be able to go on an unforgettable summer adventure, avoid crowds and save a little money while you’re at it! Happy traveling, SquareTraders.