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Lifestyle & Travel

7 Tips to Save on Your Summer Vacation

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Summer is the perfect time to relax and let that hard-working brain and body take a little breather. But it’s hard to unwind if you’re worried about spending all of your savings on an upcoming trip.

Thankfully, there are many tricks to cutting costs when booking travel, says Scott Keyes, founder and CEO of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a travel-deal site with 1.6 million subscribers. We asked Keyes to share his top penny-pinching tips for summer travel. Here’s what he said:

  1. Flexibility is your friend. One of the best strategies to avoid overpaying for flights is simply flexibility. If you're flexible on dates and locations, you're much more likely to get a decent fare than if you lock in a specific week or destination. For example, if you only consider flights to Rome in July, chances are you'll pay $1,200+ roundtrip for a flight. If, instead, you keep your options open, you can go wherever a great deal pops up, whether it be $400 roundtrip to Budapest in August or $350 roundtrip to Barcelona in June.
  2. Check if two itineraries are cheaper than one. If you’re flying somewhere internationally that’s not a major hub (e.g., London, Paris, Tokyo), it may be cheaper to break up your trip into two separate itineraries. For example, let's say you live in New York City and want to visit Santorini. When you search for fares, though, you find they’re $1,500. Though $1,500 flights may be out of the question, that doesn’t mean Santorini is no longer possible. Instead, check fares to somewhere nearby like Athens, where nonstop flights from New York City were recently on sale for $439 roundtrip. Once you're in Athens, flights to Santorini are about $60 roundtrip, bringing your total flight cost to $499, or a $1,000 off the original $1,500. Plus, you can spend some time in Athens as well before heading off to Santorini.
  3. Get alerted when great deals pop up. Airfare isn't static; cheap flights are constantly popping up and disappearing within days. Rather than spending hours every day monitoring airfare on your own, sign up for a service like Scott's Cheap Flights, where we do the work for you. As soon as a great deal pops up from your city (think $450 roundtrip to Tokyo, or $300 roundtrip to Paris), the service will alert you so you can take advantage before it disappears.
  4. Don't wait until the last minute to book. Many people wait to book flights until the last minute in the futile hope that fares will drop. Unfortunately, in the last week or two before a flight, fares tend to skyrocket. This wasn’t true 20 years ago as airlines slashed prices to fill unsold seats, but nowadays airlines actually increase prices on unsold seats knowing that it's mostly business travelers booking in that last week who are less concerned about the price because it's their company paying, not them.
  5. For the cheapest fares, book during the opposite season. Alongside Christmas/New Year's, summer is the most expensive time of year to fly. The best way to avoid expensive flights during these peak seasons is to book your winter flights during the summer, and your summer flights during the winter. Opposite season is when cheaper fares are most likely to pop up.
  6. For cheaper summer flights, head to the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re just looking to travel in the best weather, consider booking Southern Hemisphere summer flights (January through March). It's one of the cheapest times of year to fly internationally, and weather is great in places like Argentina, Australia, and South Africa.
  7. Book your flights on days that are traditionally cheaper. In general, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the cheapest days to travel. Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive days, as they're preferred flying days for business travelers.

You can save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on your family’s summer vacation if you enter into it with an open mind. Most of all, be flexible on where and when you’ll travel, and remember, discovering new destinations is all part of the adventure.

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