21 Money-Saving Summer Vacation Tips
A little flexibility with travel dates can result in big savings. Flights on Tuesdays or Wednesdays are often cheapest, for example. Travelers able to leave at a moment's notice may find last-minute bargains on flights, hotels, or vacation packages.
Travelers set on a traditional hotel stay can take their chances bidding blindly on a site such as Priceline or Hotwire, which let bidders choose a star rating and approximate location but not a specific hotel. It's possible to get a great deal this way, but there are no refunds once the bid is accepted and the hotel is revealed.
An attractive option during dry months, camping offers some of the least expensive accommodations out there -- for those who have the gear. Some of the most popular campgrounds, such as those at Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks, can fill up months in advance, although there are usually a few first-come, first-served campgrounds or spots. Many lesser-known campgrounds offer an escape from civilization at a discount rate.
Rental car agencies' airport branches often charge more than those just a few miles away. Compare all the available rates and check with the off-site locations to see if they provide free shuttles. Even if they don't, the savings can outweigh the cost of a cab.
Related: 10 Cheap Summer Vacations for Students
Traveling with friends and extended family allows everyone to split costs. Renting and sharing a house may be cheaper than booking two or three separate places, for example. Large gatherings provide free entertainment as a group reconnects, plays games, and prepares meals together.
Many credit cards tack on fees up to 3 percent for purchases overseas, so travelers heading abroad can save money by using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. To save money on ATM withdrawals, look for a checking account that refunds ATM fees internationally, such as the Charles Schwab High-Yield Checking account.
For adults traveling by plane, buying mini bottles of liquor ahead of time can be much cheaper than buying drinks onboard. Bottles up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) are small enough to go through security, and mixers are free on most flights.