5 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Save on Summer Travel

summer vacation

For those dealing with record snow and freezing temperatures, summer may feel like light years away. Still, it’s not too early to start planning and saving for that much-needed summer vacation. Whether you plan to relax on a secluded beach or hike through densely wooded forests, here are five steps you can take right now to save on summer travel.

1. Set a specific savings goal.

Several studies show that consumers save more money when they have a specific goal in mind rather than just saving for the sake of saving. If you need to set aside money for an upcoming trip, create a separate savings account and give it a fun name like “Sarah’s Hawaii Fund” or “Chuck’s Cruise Account.” You could also cut out a photo of your intended destination and wrap it around your credit card or post it on your refrigerator to remind yourself of why you’re saving money.

2. Cut back on non-essentials.

Find ways to reduce your spending and divert that extra money to your vacation fund. Do you really need a latte every morning or could you make coffee at home? Can you ditch the gym membership you haven’t used or downgrade your cell phone plan? When you’re sipping margaritas in a poolside cabana or ziplining through the rain forest, those little sacrifices will be well rewarded.

3. Set up fare alerts.

Most airlines won’t start discounting fares until about six to eight weeks before a flight, according to John E. DiScala, veteran traveler and founder of travel website JohnnyJet.com. But just in case you can snag an early travel deal, sign up for fare alerts through the airlines you frequent and third-party providers such as FareCompare.

4. Research alternate airports.

You can often save money by flying in or out of a secondary airport that might be a little further out or a little smaller. Think Providence instead of Boston or St. Petersburg instead of Tampa. “If you’re going to Rome, don’t just look at flights to Rome, look at surrounding cities like Milan,” DiScala says. You could even look at flying into London and taking a different airline to Rome, but DiScala warns that if you’re bringing a lot of luggage, baggage fees could eat up any potential savings.

5. Check your airline miles.

If you’ve accumulated a lot of unused airline miles, look into redeeming those miles for your trip rather than paying out of your own money. Or if you’re considering applying for a new credit card, look into cards that offer bonus miles. DiScala says there are several credit card issuers offering generous mileage bonuses.

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Published February 27, 2014 Updated: February 28, 2014
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