Traveling this summer? You’re not alone. Car rental shortages, booked-out hotels, and packed Florida beaches all signal that this country is ready to stretch its legs.
More people are shoveling money into savings, according to MagnifyMoney’s April Savings Index. Their number one goal? Vacation and travel. (#spoiler).
So how do you get in on the fun without breaking your wallet? Here’s how to pull off a successful vacation in 2021.
Plan in Advance
Hey, students, you’re witnessing a great Econ 101 case study in action this summer. If you aren’t down with the hip terms of “supply” and “demand,” just try booking a hotel room, flight, or rental car. This is a year you won’t want to get caught procrastinating.
Don’t just book early, but use travel sites to help you score whatever deals are out there. While you may not find a bargain since everyone on the block is headed away, by comparing you’ll at least avoid overpaying.
Here are some helpful links:
We like this site because every 10 stays you also score a free hotel room. You can also use this site for rental cars and package vacations.
One of our favorite sites for airline travel. Make sure you’re incognito when browsing so sites like this one (also looking at you, Expedia and Priceline) don’t jack up the rates while you’re shopping.
The nice thing about Google Flights is that you can see on a map where some cheap destinations are if you aren’t picky and just want to get away.
Before You Book
Stay up-to-date on any travel restrictions you could face along the way. While COVID may be “over” for you (and the millions of other vacationers), it’s still not over. Outbreaks may still happen, and no one truly knows if travel restrictions will be put back in place.
While domestic travel has largely gained a sense of normalcy, every country’s situation is different. Planning in advance is more than making an itinerary, ask yourself some questions:
- Should you buy travel insurance? (Our short answer: trips halfway across the globe, hell yeah. Headed across the state? Probably not.)
- What’s your method of transportation and do you have a confirmed rental?
- What’s your plan if you catch COVID abroad? Knock on wood, but what’s the harm in making this plan even if you’re vaccinated?
- How long can your finances handle you being refused entry back home like this Dallas couple? (By the way – this is the article I decided to link, but this definitely isn’t a one-off case).
Pad that emergency cash buffer. It’s been a year since most of us have been on vacation or made any significant travel. Things happen. Mistakes are made. Vegas slots take more money than you’d remembered… and especially now of all times, life happens.
Play the Rewards Game (if you’re responsible). Don’t let this be the post that convinces you to run out and get a credit card. That’s a conversation you need to have with yourself. However, the rewards game can be a good way to make some extra cash if done right. Our friend Lee Huffman at Bald Thoughts is a great resource.
Take the road less traveled
Popular tourist destinations are going to be absolutely packed this summer, so if there’s ever been a time to visit the more scenic, blue highway destinations, now’s the time.
While you’ll need to dig a little to find true off the beaten path experiences, there are significantly more “local” experiences in New York City than seeing the Empire State building, Lady Liberty, and Times Square.
For example, more than just small town charm can be found in some of the off-the-beaten-path destinations. Local attractions, music/art/food festivals, and good old fashioned R&R are big reasons to include a less touristy destination. That, and you will spend way less by avoiding tourist traps. Do your homework ahead of time and dive deep into local attractions. Try searching “best hotels in Richmond, VA” if you are looking at visiting Richmond, VA, and you are sure to get a treasure trove of options.
We recently talked with George from the budget-travel series George Goes Everywhere and one of his favorite practices is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it yet: go past page 2 on your search results. Plus, George stands behind researching with TripAdvisor.
Another recent podcast guest with great travel tips? Check out our chat with Joseph Rosendo from TravelScope.
Watch for deals
As different parts of the country and world open up, businesses and local economies may take different approaches when it comes to attracting business. As we write this, the State of Connecticut is offering free beer if you visit (not kidding). I’m not saying to drop Benjamins on every deal you see, but if there’s something you were already in the market for it, you might be able to score a good deal. Of course, this doesn’t apply to home purchases and renovations at the current moment, but someone’s going to make money somewhere… right?
You never know when a company or region will offer “welcome back” packages. I haven’t seen too much hubbub about company deals as of yet, but the situation may start to change as companies try to pull in a bigger share of the summer vacation / OhMyGodCanThisPandemicBeOverAllReadyIAmVaccinatedNow economy.
Finally, don’t be afraid to search for off-season fun.
You won’t find too many ski slopes in the middle of July, but winter businesses who lost money on the lockdown have a bit more incentive to start pulling in customers now rather than waiting the second half of the year. Think the “buy your winter coat in July” type thought process.
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