Fall break is a chance to avoid the large crowds and the high cost of summer travel while enjoying off-peak pricing at your favorite destinations. AAA estimates that 30% of Americans will travel between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Whether the break translates to a long weekend or a full week off school and work, there are several ways to cut costs.
Explore Less Expensive Travel Destinations
The location is a major influence on the overall cost of travel. For example, hot spots like fall leaf viewing routes may feature peak prices. Beaches, lakes and popular summer spots, have off-peak rates, providing discounts up to 50%. Shoulder season destinations continue to have good weather and in some cases warm waters, with a chance to enjoy together time for less.
Save on Air Transportation
When choosing a destination involving a flight, look for routes to airline hubs, which tend to offer direct flights at lower costs. Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Las Angeles, and Dallas or busy hubs featuring inexpensive regional flights to and from smaller cities.
Other ways to save on flights include traveling on lighter days such as Tuesday or Wednesday. Sign up for email notifications for your favorite airline, as well as travel websites such as Expedia and Travelocity. You can save searches to desired destinations and receive email alerts when the price drops.
Fly.com offers unpublished deals through a fare calendar, which also notifies you when prices fall. Google Flights allows you to enter a home airport and the dates you want to travel. The search compares all flights to that destination on your dates. Prices for flights constantly fluctuate, so immediately book when you find a price you like.
Save on Ground Transportation
Ground transportation could include driving, renting a car, traveling by train or bus. Driving or renting a car can save money because you do not pay a per person rate. You also face fewer packing limits, which can save additional money when you bring food, games, or other items.
CarRentals.com saves you money by comparing prices on various deals offered through warehouse travel suppliers. Booking in advance, looking for online coupons, picking up at a non-airport location, and renting for a week are strategies to lower the cost of a rental.
On AutoSlash.com you enter your reservation number, and the website tracks the amount you paid for your car rental. If a lower price becomes available, it automatically rebooks at the lower price.
To save money while driving, use the app GasBuddy as a resource to track fuel prices at your destination. You can also save money by purchasing gift cards at a discount before the trip. Websites such as Card Pool resell unused gift cards at a discount. Local warehouse clubs like Sam’s and Costco also sell discounted gift cards.
Locate discounts on train travel within the US at Amtrak. They offer Rail Passes as well as saver fares on many routes.
Bus fares come from major bus lines such as Greyhound to private coaches providing trips to tourist hot spots. Greyhound runs specials for one-way tickets as low as $1.
Aside from getting to the destination, lodging can be the highest expense of travel. Aggregator websites like Hotwire, HotelTonight.com, and Booking.com can save money on hotel nights and offer last-minute savings.
Other ways to lower lodging costs include:
Home Exchanging, which involves switching homes with another family, allowing you to stay free at the destination. Most home exchange companies charge an annual fee for unlimited exchanges.
Camping can be rustic or well equipped, based on the place. Most offer bathrooms and showers, with some providing pools, playgrounds, and other amenities. Prices range from $20 to $80 a night, giving you a chance to enjoy the outdoors during the warm days and cool nights of fall. CampgroundViews.com can locate a campground near your preferred destination.
Glamping is a popular option, which features the environment of a campground with cabins or RVs for a more comfortable sleep.
Airbnb brings individuals looking for a place to stay with those renting out their home or room, often with more space and a lower cost than hotels.
VRBO and private home rental agencies feature house rentals at popular vacation destinations. You can often rent a home for less than multiple hotel rooms at the same location.
Once you arrive at the destination, you must choose things to do within a budget you have set. One of the best ways to stay on track financially is to set a daily budget for both activities and food, which keep you focused on having fun without overspending.
A little pre-planning goes a long way and can result in discounted admission prices, allowing you to do more of the things you love. Begin with an internet search of available activities and then categorize them by interest and price. Search for online discounts or through local coupon books such as Entertainment.com to find savings.
Discounted pricing might involve going at certain times or on certain days. Popular activities often offer lower prices during the week or evening hours. Join the company email list for notification of specials. Also ask about student, senior and military discounts, if relevant.
Find free activities and events during your stay to offset higher priced experiences. The fall months typically offer good weather for outdoor exploring which could save money for other adventures.
Buying food on the road can be a budget buster, especially if you eat out every meal. Securing accommodations with a kitchen or a microwave and fridge can help lower food costs.
Eat one or two meals in each day, which could include pastries for breakfast or packing a picnic lunch. Making lunch your biggest meal and ordering water as the only beverage are also effective ways to reduce the restaurant bill. Other ways to save eating out include locating restaurant discounts on websites like Living Social, ordering the daily specials, or sharing the entrée.
Traveling is an adventure which can renew your spirit, increase productivity at work, and bring families together. Using the above tips, you can find ways to take an affordable vacation that does not add additional debt to your bottom line.