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8 Travel Hacks for a Fabulously Frugal Summer Vacation

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travel hacks cheap vacations

Summer is here, which means summer Fridays, beautiful weather and empty offices with co-workers jetting off to exotic places. You’ve worked hard all year — especially the dull, long winter — so you want to get in on the action. If you are looking to take a fabulous vacation that works with your spending plan, here are some tips to help you save big on your next getaway without compromising the fun and fab.


1. Book your flights at the right time.


When’s the best time to purchase domestic airfare?

  • The answer varies considerably depending on factors such as destination, route, and time of year.
  • According to, 54 days before your flight is the best time to book. Before you set a reminder to book 54 days out, get all the info here
  • Purchasing a flight less than 2 weeks from your departure date isn’t recommended but buying too far in advance can be almost as expensive as buying days before departure
  • Flight sales typically open up 331 days before departure, and domestic fares tend to stay steadily high for about 4 months
  • The best way to make sure you’re buying at the optimum time? Use an app like Hopper and get notified if your watched flight is expected to get more expensive in the coming days


What about international airfare?

  • According to, the optimal time to buy is 166 days out for locations in Africa, 89 days for Mexico, 151 for Europe, 129 days for Asia and 101 for the Caribbean
  • As with domestic flights, Kayak and Google Alerts can help to remove some of the guesswork & alert you of the best time to buy & fly


As always, sometimes price outweighs the convenience.  Waiting might pay off to help you get the best airfare, but wait too long and you might be limited to more expensive accommodations at your vacation spot. Or, you might spend 3 days of your week-long vacation waiting out long layovers in various airports.  


What about when to fly?

According to a 2015 report from Expedia, Tuesdays through Thursdays are the cheapest day to fly, with Tuesday being the cheapest of all. Saturday is, as one would expect, the most expensive.

In terms of summer months, CheapAir reports that July is the most expensive; as you get later in the summer, flights become cheaper (except Labor Day weekend!).


2. Be open.

Desperate to get away but not set on a particular location? Use the explore feature on Kayak to view the best deals from your home airport to various locations all over the world.  You might get to travel to a cool new place that you never would have thought to visit!


While it may be difficult to finagle your vacation days, it may work best for your budget to be flexible about when you can fly out and return. If you’re set on a Labor Day weekend excursion, for example, you will most likely encounter a premium in cost. If you’re willing to go earlier in August or later in September, though, you’re more likely to snag a deal.


3. Use technology, patience & social media to your advantage.

Downloading apps like Hopper or Skyscanner can be totally worth it if you’re planning on traveling in the future. These apps, like Google and Kayak, can predict the future of airfare. Watch your next flight in the app and sign up for email alerts to be notified the moment the price drops to its lowest point.  If the price is predicted to rise, you’ll be notified of that, too! This way, you never miss a deal!


If you’re willing to wait until last minute, the Hotel Tonight app offers deals on unsold hotel rooms up to a week in advance. Depending on what city you’re looking in, you can get a beautiful room for less than $100.


Follow Airlines on social media.  Sometimes sales are announced on social media, particularly on Twitter, that aren’t advertised in other places. 


4. Make the Airbnb vs hotel decision.

With Airbnb, the quality will vary greatly, but so will the price!  Read previous visitors’ reviews, look at pictures, and ask the host questions. In many cases, particularly when traveling in groups, Airbnb can be much less expensive than staying in a hotel and a lot more homey. Other perks? In most cases, your Airbnb will have an equipped kitchen which will give you the freedom to cook some of your meals in your house/apartment rental. The money you save can be used to splurge on a nice dinner out or other excursion, if you’d like!


5. Get out of your comfort zone.

Forget cheap! Want to stay somewhere for free? It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your vacation, but if you’re up for an adventure, couchsurfing and house sitting are always options! (Disclaimer: this isn’t for everyone!).


6. You don’t really need all of those shoes — pack lightly!

It’s now very common for airlines to charge for any checked bags.  Pack lightly so all you need to take is a carry-on. Space saver bags are inexpensive and can be reused every time you pack your suitcase. Going on a longer trip? Check to see is there’s an affordable place to do laundry where you’re staying.


7. Consider a staycation.

If you want to go on multiple vacations or a vacation isn’t in the cards this year, try a staycation. Here are some ideas:

  • Book a local hotel, Airbnb or Bnb for a night.  
  • Try a new fabulously frugal wine
  • Be a hometown tourist.
  • Splurge at the grocery store and make an exotic meal.
  • Go visit that friend/family member that you haven’t seen in awhile — you may save on a room and a tour guide!
  • Explore a new neighborhood.


8. Use your points.

Travel is often a really effective way to use your credit card points and perks. Check with your credit card company for points and travel deals they offer.


Our best advice for booking an affordable vacation is to do your research and be realistic. Be open minded, act quick with deals, and focus on making memories — which is the point of vacations in the first place. Don’t forget to set up your Out Of Office email!

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