The days are long, the weather is warm, and focusing on PowerPoint presentations at work is getting even harder. It can mean only one thing: Summer vacation season is upon us! And nothing kills a beach buzz like stressing over the details of a trip.
Whether you’re getting away with your girlfriends to an off-season destination (a great way to save some money!) or dunking your baby’s toes in the ocean for the first time, a little money-saving savvy will go a long way. And considering that 74 percent of Americans have gone into debt to pay for a vacation, according to LearnVest, don’t miss these five tips:
1. Know when to book your flight
Timing really is everything here. Airlines usually release flights at specific points in the day and prices tend to fluctuate in a rhythm. Most experts say that the sweet spot is about 54 days in advance. But here’s a tip: Sign up for emails from an alert site. Tell them where you would like to fly, and they will let you know as soon as your preferred destination goes on sale.
2. Steer clear of cookies
3. Do some sweet-talking
Only 28 percent of travelers ask for an upgrade at the front desk of a hotel, but of those who do, about 78 percent get a better room or a lower rate. A little in-person schmooze can actually bring results. Another pro tip? By 6 p.m., hotels generally know which rooms will be filled, so if you’re checking in later, you might have a better chance of scoring that room with the killer view that is magically unoccupied.
4. Try a new hotel
Staying at a cool new spot is always fun. But there’s financial incentive, too: When a hotel first launches, occupancy rates—and prices—tend to be lower. That’s because newer properties want to attract visitors in hopes of getting the word out. The same goes for hotels undergoing a renovation and just after the renovation is finished. Many people shy away from properties under construction, so they’ll be anxious to add to their clientele.
5. Charge it
Pull out the plastic when you’re abroad. Especially if your credit card has no foreign transaction fees (make sure to check), it’s likely to have a better exchange rate than you’d get changing currency at the airport. Bonus: If you have a card that gives travel rewards, you’ll be racking up points for your next trip in the process.