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Here’s How You Can Afford That Vacation This Summer

Summertime, and the living is easy. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of summer travel.

After two years of  stay-at-home protocols and restrictions, Americans are feeling the urge to get up off the couch and get back to traveling. But wanderlust will cost you this summer, leaving you to wonder how far you can stretch a dollar. Rental car rates have increased by 10%. Hotel rooms will cost you about 23% more compared to the days before 2020. Air fares are up by about 33%. The cost of restaurant meals have risen by 9%. And if you’re planning a road trip, you might want to shift your thinking about how far you’d like to drive: Gasoline prices have surged by a whopping 44%.

The good news? According to Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA travel, higher prices don’t seem to be keeping people from making travel plans. “Based on our projections, summer travel isn’t just heating up, it will be on fire. People are overdue for a vacation and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months.”

If you’re looking to book travel during the warm weather months, here are five ways you can limit expenses without curtailing the fun, freedom, and frolic of a long-awaited summer excursion.

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Don’t Wait Too Long

As a result of the last few years’ dramatic impact on the travel and tourism industry, consumers can expect airlines, tour operators, and other travel-related entities to provide better cancellation policies that offer more flexibility and peace of mind. As a result, travelers can feel more comfortable locking in reservations and tickets before prices and availability worsen, and then canceling or rescheduling when – or if – more  affordable options become available.

As always, you should review all travel cancellation policies before you book. It’s also worth noting that less expensive, “no frills” reservations and tickets may have stricter policies on everything from cancellations and refunds to rescheduling and rebooking, so be sure to read the fine print carefully.

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See If A “work-cation” Works For You

It used to be that time off from work was especially costly for freelancers, gig workers, contract employees, and others who don’t have access to paid vacation benefits. But the availability of remote work has skyrocketed in the post-pandemic world, which means you can travel to a new location, get in some serious work time during the day, and then use your off hours to explore and enjoy everything a new destination has to offer. And if you’re considering an extended stay in a new locale, you might be able to negotiate significant discounts through property rental services such as Airbnb.

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Choose A Destination You Can Afford

Before the last couple of years put a crimp in travel planning, vacationers would decide where they wanted to go, when they wanted to travel, and what they wanted to do once they  arrived at their destination. Making reservations and finding the best prices followed. But planning your vacation now requires some reverse-thinking: Start by identifying the most affordable destinations, then plan your vacation around the events and attractions available in that locale.

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Select Weekday Flights

Some of the major airlines haven’t been able to restore all the flights that were eliminated during the early (and ongoing) days of the pandemic. A scarcity of flights can translate  into tickets that are not only super expensive but also hard to find. But if you’re flexible in terms of which days you take off and land, you could end up scoring some reasonably priced airline deals. Consider using online price-monitoring services such as Google Flights Explore Map and Google Flights to identify the least expensive travel dates, which oftentimes require flying on a weekday rather than on a weekend.

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Think Differently About Your Ride

Sure, car rentals are a nice convenience, but they can also be expensive. Forgo a car rental altogether, and rely on hotel shuttles as well as on-site hotel or resort transportation instead. If you find you need your own transportation for the occasional trip when you go out and about, ride-sharing apps can help you connect with other travelers looking to save some cash. Additionally, car-sharing services such as Turo, Getaround, and Zipcar enable you to temporarily borrow another driver’s car for an agreed-upon fee.

If you’re feeling adventurous and you also love driving, check into delivering a car or a motor home for a driveaway service. You’ll be given a deadline for delivering the vehicle as well as a fuel allowance; do keep in mind, however, that fuel costs for any extra miles your travel will likely come out of your own pocket.