SAN ANTONIO — Ready to take off for travel, but prices are keeping you grounded at home? The best way to save is to go off-season.
“That beach house in October or April is a fraction of the cost than in July or August, and also the beaches are empty and the restaurants are much more eager to have you there,” said Neil Wertheimer of AARP.
The organization offers literally dozens of other ways to save on travel here.
Here's another tip: Be flexible on the days you spend away. Travel midweek for discounts.
“Weekends are obviously going to have the biggest prices,” said Andrea Woroch, a smart saving expert. “So if you’re planning to fly out on a Friday after work, expect prices to be the highest. With the flexibility of working remotely, maybe you work a few days at the beginning of your trip from your hotel room and then extend your trip so you have more time.”
There's no longer any best day or time to book a flight. Instead, set an alert for the best deal.
“Use an app like Hopper because you can go ahead and set your preferred route,” said Julie Ramhold, of Dealnews.com. “They’ll give you a notification when the price drops. It really does take a lot of the guesswork out. You just set your travel time, your route, and then they tell you when to book.”
Also: Do not rent a car at the airport, and you will save.
“Take the free shuttle to the hotel and then see if there is a car-rental option close to the hotel,” Woroch said. "Sometimes they even pick you up for free some of the car rental agencies, so you might be able to find more inventory and better prices."
Or, consider going to a destination where you can use public transportation so you save on the car rental.
"Maybe you can get around taking a bus or train, especially if you're going to a city destination," Woroch said.
It might cost more, but book a hotel with this feature to save on food.
“Spring for the suite with the kitchen so that you can make some meals, even if it’s just cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch,” Ramhold said. “It can really cut down on costs for dining out."
Save on meals eaten out by looking for restaurants that offer free kids' meals.
Activities can be costly, as we all know. Look for destinations that offer free things to do.
“Think mountains,” Woroch said. “Think the beach, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, playing on the beach, building sandcastles, swimming. These are fun activities. You build a lot of memories and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”
Find coupons for other activities to save.
Or, you can consider a staycation.
“Staycations don’t have to mean actually even staying at home,” Woroch said. “Maybe it’s booking a hotel in your town that maybe has a pool or maybe a waterslide at the pool and you can just make it a fun adventure. Now you’re saving on gas, you’re saving on airfare, you are spending on the hotel, but it still feels special and like you’re going away. Then, maybe you do allow yourself to splurge on a nice meal out.”
It will still feel like a break, without breaking your budget.