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Are you planning to travel this summer? What can you do to save money and avoid the crowds?
Nearly 85% of Americans plan to travel this summer, meaning you can expect big crowds, long lines, and high prices at popular destinations. Thankfully, there are some measures you can take so you can enjoy your summer vacation, stress-free.
Keep reading for summer travel tips for avoiding crowds and major travel snags, and for staying on a budget.
2023 Summer Travel Tips
Summer 2023 promises to be a travel blockbuster. According to a survey by The Vacationer, 85% of Americans plan to travel this summer, with half of those saying they plan to travel more than once.
The UN World Tourism Organization finds that globally, international travel was already at 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023, so a hectic summer is expected. Flights to many destinations are filling up and some airlines are charging record airfares. Hotels and rental properties are booking up fast in popular locations, too. Additionally, gas prices are predicted to average around $4 a gallon across the US and could surge to almost $7 a gallon in some states.
All of this means that if your summer travel plans aren’t already set, planning a vacation this year could pose some challenges. Here are our summer travel tips to help you navigate the challenges and remain within your budget.
Plan Well to Prevent Snags
One of the reasons people are expected to be traveling so much this summer is that they’re making up for lost time and experiences due to the pandemic. With vaccinations and lower infection rates, most countries are now open to travelers from abroad, and those travelers feel more comfortable being in crowded spaces. But the possibility of Covid outbreaks is still real, and travel plans should be built around this assumption.
Some tips for avoiding major snags in travel plans, due to potential delays, staffing shortages, and supply chain disruptions include:
- Plan as early as possible: If you haven’t yet solidified your summer travel plans, the sooner you book, the better.
- Purchase travel insurance: Insuring your trip can provide financial protection for losses and expenses you may incur due to trip cancellation or interruption, such as your flight and hotel costs, medical costs, emergency transportation, and loss of luggage.
- Build flexibility into your schedule: In anticipation of unforeseeable issues, don’t over-plan—instead, try building time buffers into your schedule.
- Do your research: Be sure to look into your destination thoroughly so you’re aware of any safety issues or other practical concerns that could interrupt your travel, such as safety concerns or strikes.
- Check the CDC recommendations: When traveling to certain countries, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines when it comes to vaccines, food, and water.
Avoid the Crowds
Knowing where the masses are headed can also help you make informed decisions about how to avoid the most crowded—and therefore often the most expensive—destinations. To plan a more restful vacation, try going off the beaten path.
Some tips for avoiding the biggest crowds include:
- Choose a less popular destination: Western Europe is the region of the world that Americans are most likely to visit, so consider less frequented regions. Google has compiled a list of the most-searched travel destinations for this summer. To avoid crowds, stay away from these cities: London, Cancún, Paris, Orlando, Rome, New York, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Seattle, and Miami. Instead, consider destinations in Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa.
- Avoid rush hour: One way to avoid crowds at popular vacation destinations is to visit attractions during unpopular times—for example, later in the afternoon or on weekdays.
- Take advantage of VIP offers: If you can afford it, some tourist destinations offer the option of paying extra to avoid long lines or be admitted at less-crowded times.
- Book excursions in advance: Sometimes you can avoid crowds at major attractions, such as historic sites, museums, and theme parks by booking your admission for a specific time slot in advance.
Mind Your Budget
With some clever strategizing, it’s possible to travel without breaking the bank.
- Be flexible with your travel dates: Traveling during the week or during the shoulder season can often be cheaper than traveling on weekends or during peak season.
- Consider alternative accommodations: Instead of staying in a hotel, consider staying in a vacation rental, hostel, or camping to save money.
- Pack light: Many airlines charge for checked baggage, so packing light and only bringing a carry-on can save you money.
- Use public transportation: Instead of renting a car, consider using public transportation or ride-share services to get around your destination.
- Avoid pricey restaurants: Eating out can be expensive, so consider cooking your own meals to save money.
- Take advantage of credit card rewards: Many credit cards offer airline miles and hotel rewards. If you don’t have any rewards to take advantage of now, think about acquiring one of these cards and start racking up points during your trip this summer.
- Reduce your gas expense: If you’re traveling by car or RV you can save money on gas by paying with cash at the pump, using a gas rewards card, staying in cruise control, limiting your air conditioner use, and finding the best prices using an app.
- Don’t go overboard with souvenirs: When you’re in a new place, it’s tempting to want to take everything home with you to show your friends and family. However, you should resist the urge and be picky with what you bring home. Remember that the prices of souvenirs are jacked-up for tourists, you may not have space for them in your luggage, and they will create clutter at home. Instead, opt for taking lots of photos—they’re free and they don’t take up space.
- Don’t use a travel agent: While it may sound intimidating, the cheapest way to plan a trip is to do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be complicated either—thanks to Google, travel bloggers, YouTubers, and other online travel resources. Thankfully, we live in a time where you can easily Google a location and find a suggested itinerary that fits your budget and preferences.
Consider a Staycation
To avoid all of the potential snags, headaches, and costs associated with travel, you might consider a staycation instead. By opting to spend your vacation at home, you can save money and escape the stress of crowded airports, packed tourist attractions, and long lines, and have a more relaxing experience.
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