Summer is the time when most families go away on vacation, since children tend to have the most time off from school during these months. In addition to families traveling, however, everyone else is trying to escape to a beach or to cooler-climate destinations if they can’t handle the intense summer heat. For this reason, many popular destinations tend to be at their peak season from June until August, which usually makes flights and accommodations more expensive, due to demand.
While there are certainly tips and hacks you can follow to score the best deals, there are also some common mistakes people tend to make while planning. For instance, you have to pack well if you’re going away for more than a few days. You never want to over-pack, but you can certainly fit more into your suitcase by making small changes, like rolling your clothes instead of folding them. To be sure you’re doing your best at planning smart, don’t make these 13 common mistakes.
It’s hard to commit yourself to a packaged deal sometimes without thinking there’s some sort of catch to it. However, if you do your research on the specifics of a package and check to see if it will benefit your lifestyle, then a travel package can usually work. The best example for this would be cruises, which tend to have drink packages, since each drink individually costs somewhere around $15. If you’re not a big drinker and will only have 2 or 3 the entire trip, the package wouldn’t be worth it, but if you’re planning to have a truly relaxed summer vacation and know you’ll be drinking more than that, the package will probably benefit you.
Sometimes flexibility just isn’t in the cards, but not being flexible will cost you. If you are fortunate enough to have the flexibility to travel any day of the week, your best bet is to seek out tickets for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. These three days of the week are cheaper because fewer people are flying then. Most people leaving on a weekend trip will book flights for Thursday or Friday, coming home Sunday or Monday.
Travel deals and discounts are great, of course, but you should still factor some wiggle room into your budget. Sometimes things will cost more than you expect, or other times you’ll want to splurge a bit once you arrive at your destination — and why shouldn’t you? It’s your vacation. When it comes down to it, you just don’t want to be on a trip and run out of money too soon, so plan for unexpected expenses.
Many people spend the summer traveling abroad, especially families with children where the summer months give them enough time for longer vacations. Before you leave, do your research on the currency exchange rates. You’ll want to exchange the money when the dollar is at its highest, and you’ll want to pay the lowest exchange fees possible. Depending on how much it’ll cost you to make the exchange in the country you’re traveling to, you may want to convert it before leaving, or once you’ve arrived if that’s cheaper (as it is in countries like Taiwan).
If you’re making the exchange in America, be aware that your bank may need time to request the currency you’re seeking if it isn’t a commonly purchased currency such as the euro. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a week or two for it to arrive, so plan for that time as well.
Have you ever refreshed your search while shopping for tickets and realized the prices were going up? This is usually due to your browser’s cookie history. Companies use these cookies to track your searches and create dynamic pricing, which means your ticket price may potentially increase if you keep searching for the same item. To avoid being a victim of the airlines’ sneaky tactics, clear your browser cookies each time you do a search or just turn on private browsing.
Have AAA or credit card benefits? You can usually get discounts by knowing what companies offer. If you need to rent a car at your destination, for instance, rental companies will usually give you an upgrade or discount (or both) when you use your AAA card. Also, some airlines have point promotions with specific credit cards, so find out which ones do. If you can rack up enough points, it’ll help pay for your next trip (or for this trip if you’ve already been collecting them – go you!).
You don’t have to use the same airline both ways. If you’re doing this for a connecting flight it can definitely be tricky — especially since you won’t know how far the terminals are from each other until you arrive — but it’s definitely worth it if it means saving a few hundred bucks.
There are a few mistakes you can make when packing for a trip. The two biggest mistakes: what you’re packing and how. Be aware of what you’ll be doing on your summer vacation and pack accordingly — if you’re lounging by the beach, take flip-flops; if you’re going horseback riding, take long pants and boots. Once you know what to pack, make sure you’re getting the most out of your luggage space by rolling your clothes to fit into the crevices of your suitcase, and by packing each shoe separately so you can fit them into empty pockets of space (as opposed to letting them take up a chunk of your bag together).
This goes for airline tickets as well as hotel and car rental accommodations. Compare your options before settling on one, and don’t forget to ask about those discounts. Use websites that compare prices for you, like Kayak, Expedia, and Orbitz. However, once you’ve scoured the internet for the best prices, you should try booking directly through the company’s site, or call to see if they’ll do a price match to fit the deal you found. When you use a third party to book your travel arrangements, you can run into issues — for instance, you may encounter lost reservations or unaccommodating staff if you have to make any changes.
If you’re finding that all the rates for hotels and flights are outside your budget, don’t panic. Affordable rates might be available; you’re just not able to see them. Travel agencies often have access to information on hotel and flight rates that aren’t available to the public, and it is their job to help you plan your dream summer vacation with it. The best part is travel agencies are often free for the traveler, as they make their money off of partnerships with the travel companies they work with.
Flying into and out of one specific airport can be more expensive than if you alternate each leg of your flight with another airport nearby. If there’s more than one airport near you, see what tickets are cheapest. Sometimes you’ll find great deals by being flexible — leaving from one airport and returning to a different one. Just be sure to know which airport you’re heading to each time; missing your flight because you overlooked your ticket details would be an even bigger mistake.
You’re messing up if you’re not taking advantage of travel apps when planning your trip. There’s an app out there for every need you may have, and naturally there are plenty that attempt to make traveling easier for the consumer. One such app that happens to be ideal for finding the cheapest flights possible is Hopper. It tells you what days are the most expensive (and the cheapest) and whether the prices will change between your search time and the date you’ve chosen, and it will also let you track each trip individually, updating you when ticket prices fluctuate.
Where possible, check to see if a foreign airline is taking your desired route. Many of the world’s best airlines are expanding business in North America, and a whole host of discount carriers are popping up too. Not only do they give you more variety, but you also can sometimes get better deals or better perks such as free blankets and pillows, newspapers, more food and drinks, and hot towels — even in coach. For ideas on just what destinations you should be flying to this summer, check out our list of the best cities for wallet-friendly summer travel.