With the economic recovery starting to gain some momentum, the polar vortex giving way to spring (knock on wood) and the open road calling, AAA is predicting the strongest travel numbers since 2005. Whether you’re thinking about going across the county or across the world, here are some great ideas on how to travel on the cheap this summer:
How many of us grew up with memories of the open road, heading to places unknown, as part of the quintessential summer vacation experience? Even with gas prices averaging $3.64 a gallon for the third year in a row according to KOMO News, taking to the open road is still the chosen method of travel for the majority of Americans.
In fact, with refineries that were offline last summer now open, it’s a great time to see the Midwest, which is predicted to have significant drops in fuel prices compared to summer 2013. With the ability to go where you want, stop when you want and take things at your own pace, it’s no wonder that road trips are still the travel of choice for 88% of Americans, according to AAA’s Travel Forecast.
Look for Freebies, Rewards and Deals
Wherever you’re thinking of going, a Google search with the city name and “free” will lead you to a number of different events and places you can visit for no cost. Above and beyond that, take a look at Groupon and Living Social websites as well as other similar sites that offer fabulous money-saving deals for your lodging, food and activities.
What about your credit card, hotel and airline rewards? If you’ve built up enough rewards points, it’s easy to turn them into airline tickets, hotel stays and cash back to put towards your summer vacation. Spend an hour taking a good, hard look at which programs you have and which ones to sign up for before you go.
Borrow Instead of Rent
Do you know a snowbird whose RV is just sitting there? Arranging to borrow an RV or travel trailer will probably cost you a bit more in gas, but it will more than be made up for by the lack of hotel costs, restaurant meals and related travel expenses. An added bonus is that by being taken out and driven, the RV or trailer will be in better shape for fall and winter travel as older fuel is used up, the battery is recharged or the oil is changed.
What about that awesomely fuel efficient car sitting in the garage? It may be a somewhat more cramped space, but the savings you’ll see in gas alone will allow for some pretty hefty bribes to keep the kids (mostly) behaving.
This is an even easier proposition in the summer than in the winter, when bulky clothing, boots and extra layers take up more room. In either scenario, make sure you return it in better shape than you found it; an oil change, detailing or full tank of gas goes a long way to say “thank you” for your summer vacation savings.
Camping Instead of Hotel Room
Other money-saving options include camping instead of getting hotel rooms, even if it’s only for part of your trip. National and state parks, public campgrounds and relative’s backyards are all great places to catch a good night’s sleep while saving cash and seeing some beautiful countryside. Pair it with a little nature in the form of hikes, wildlife preserves and similar stops and you’ll have a hit!
Summer vacation is a time for relaxing and taking it easy! By following these hints, you’ll be less stressed out over finances and more able to enjoy yourself. Take a look at places you’ve never been and explore what that corner of the world has to offer.