The Best Times of the Year to Save Money on Travel

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Vacations are full of potential stressors: lost baggage or plane delays, flat tires or incorrect driving directions, poor weather, and so on. Once you spend a lot of money on something, you want it to go right, but unfortunately, many of these potential problems are out of your hands. You can, however, save money by making smart decisions about your travel. There are certain times of the year when it’s smarter to travel because you can save money. If your travel plans are flexible, you can save money, but even if your dates are set you can still make wise travel decisions. You don’t have to miss out on nice weather or fun activities just to save money, but avoiding the rush will often help you cut costs. Planning ahead can truly help you get the best vacation possible for less. Here are some tips to help you save money on your travel.

Gas prices

If you are planning a road trip, it can help to consider when gas is the most and least expensive. Surprisingly, many people will find the cheapest gas on the weekends. A study by GasBuddy showed that 65% of states saw lower gas prices on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So if you are planning a road trip and you can plan to do most of your driving on the weekend, you may save money.

You can also search for gas prices on GasBuddy.com. This site will tell you the lowest gas prices in your area so that you can continue to save money as you drive. You can also maximize your fuel savings by driving at the right speed, taking advantage of coupons for gas stations, purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle, and taking care of your car.

Plane tickets

If a plane ride is part of your travel plans, traveling at the right time can help you travel for less. According to USA Today, the cheapest time to travel is usually the least popular time to travel between two destinations. This can spell trouble if you plan to go to a destination that is the most scenic, or the warmest, during the popular time of year. Still, if you are willing to be flexible about your travel plans, you can still get the warmth (or the romance) that you want without spending top dollar.

Consider traveling during an off season, or even a hurricane season. Although this doesn’t sound like an ideal vacation, if your ticket is canceled due to weather, you should be able to rebook it. If you don’t face weather problems, you can enjoy a picturesque vacation for less. If this seems too risky for you, but you have a flexible work schedule, consider traveling when families usually don’t. Sometimes airlines set their prices based on academic calendars, which means that winter or summer break times are expensive.

Hotels, cruises

You also might find that traveling off-season can help you save money on hotel costs as well. In addition to traveling on less desirable dates, be sure to book your hotel as far in advance as possible (at least a month in advance). If you can’t do that, but you have truly flexible travel plans, consider waiting until the last minute. You may score a deal if the hotel has extra rooms that they need to fill.

If you plan to take a cruise, being flexible can also help you cut costs. According to Cruise Critic, be aware that you should never pay the brochure price for a cruise; always demand a lower price. If you can set your travel plans as close as three to six weeks before the cruise, you may be able to save a lot of money (but your accommodations might be lacking). Cruise Critic also recommends taking a cruise during the shoulder season (between peak and off-peak times), which can save a few hundred dollars.

Get the timing right

The actual time of the year that you should travel will depend on where you are going. If you want to go to Europe, winter is typically the cheapest time to go. However, if you want to travel to Cancun, the best time can actually be during the peak season from December to April. So although traveling during the off season will usually save you money, this isn’t always the case.

You can also save money by considering what you plan to do on vacation. If you simply want to visit family across the country, and you know that certain shows, activities, or events cost less during less popular travel times, you can save money on your spending once you arrive.

In order to save money on your vacation, you will have to do some planning. Whether that means booking months ahead for a vacation that requires air travel, or simply arranging your schedule so that you can get up and go if a dream last minute deal comes up, you will need to plan and do research in order to cut costs. If you are taking a road trip, you can have more of a set plan, but you will still be rewarded by researching the best gas and hotel deals, and by traveling during the cheapest times of the year.

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