Make the most out of your summer vacation with these seven clever ways to cut costs during peak travel season. Hello, a week at the beach doesn’t have to break the bank.
STAY DOWN THE STREET FROM THE BEACH
A few blocks can save you as much as $100 a night—so what if you have to walk seven minutes to get to sand? Just check with the hotel or Airbnb host to make sure you don’t need a special pass for beach access and ask if you need to BYO umbrella. (Same rules apply elsewhere—you could save $200 on your Disney World vacation by staying offsite.)
NEGOTIATE THE PRICE OF YOUR AIRBNB
It’s as simple as sending an email to the host before you book. Explain how much you love their apartment/house/villa, but you can really only make it work for [insert your ideal price here]. Don’t insult them with a way-too-low counter offer, but if the place is on the cusp of your budget, it never hurts to find out about wiggle room. Not sure what to say? Here’s your script.
MENTION ANY (AND ALL) SPECIAL OCCASIONS
It’s your honeymoon! Or birthday! Or maybe it’s just a long-overdue weekend away from the kids. Whatever the reason for your getaway, let the manager know in advance via email. (Just say: “Dear Manager, It’s my birthday! Do you offer any special packages or deals?”) Even if all it gets you is a free upgrade, it’s worth speaking up.
SHOP FOR CAR RENTAL DEALS AFTER YOU'VE BOOKED
Some free advice: When you’re renting a vehicle, always reserve but never pay in full up front. Here’s why: Booking without putting down a credit card allows you to lock in the dates and rate while keeping your options open in the event that you scout a better deal. (Plug the details of the reservation into AutoSlash and they’ll send you a notice if prices suddenly drop.)
SAME GOES FOR AIRFARE AND HOTELS
Bottom line: Even during peak summer season, prices can still fluctuate and drop. Rely on technology—like AirfareWatchdog—to send you alerts on any monetary adjustments made to flights or hotels you’ve already booked. Then call and ask for cash back.
"LIKE" YOUR DESTINATION'S SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Disneyland on the itinerary? Follow the park on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before you visit. It’s the best way to stay on top of any last-minute savings or deals. (Fifty percent off Monday park passes? Score!) Same goes for other attractions, like restaurants, museums and guided tours. You’d be surprised how many last-minute savings deals crop up.
PLAN TO HIT THE ROAD IN AUGUST
Bad news for kids, but good news for travel plans: Since back-to-school is increasingly happening in August, it’s the perfect time to look for price dips at national parks and kid-friendly destinations. (Planning to travel with your tots? A family vacation is pretty priceless. So what if they miss the first day of school?)