If your summer travel plans will take you abroad, you might be a little bit concerned that all the fun activities you’re planning may wreak havoc on your finances.
Fortunately, going overseas doesn’t have to be a budget killer, as long as you travel smart and do some planning ahead of time.
Here’s how to get the most for your travel dollar on your next international vacation.
Score Flights for Less
Airline tickets are likely to be one of your biggest travel costs if you’re heading out of the country. Whether you’re going off to Italy, Brazil, Egypt or elsewhere, try these suggestions to land terrific airfare bargains.
- Travel during off-peak days and times
When you travel and at what time will greatly determine the price of airline tickets. According to Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com, the cheapest days to travel are (in this order): Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Also, the first flights of the morning (yes, that’s those 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. flights, so get ready to to get up early) are usually the most affordable, followed by mid-afternoon flights and late evening flights.
- Sign up for alerts and frequent flyer programs
Many airfares offer discounted prices and email alerts first to their most loyal customers: those who sign for a frequent flyer program or who requested to be notified about sales.
- Try different airlines and airports
Many people tend to stick exclusively to the five major “legacy carriers,”–American, Continental, Delta, United and U.S. Airways. But in some markets, discount carriers such as Frontier, JetBlue or Southwest or Spirit Airlines offer better deals. These can be good deals if you must connect regionally before heading out of the country.
Additionally, don’t dismiss the idea of traveling out of or into a gateway that you might not normally use. And be sure to comparison shop the prices at airports within close proximity of one another. For instance, if you’re heading into the Washington, D.C. area, check prices at both Reagan International and Dulles.
By being flexible about your airlines, airports and travel dates, you’ll save a lot of money.
Lighten Your Lodging Bill
Savvy travelers looking for hotel discounts always leverage the power of the Internet. So research the prices of the hotels you may be interested in online and then also call to see if they have any special deals for the time you want to travel.
Also, if you aren’t tied to staying at a particular hotel chain, try your hand at using Priceline.com’s “Name Your Own Price” program to get a deep discount off a hotel in the city you want. Priceline users often report saving up to 50% of the published rates. I’ve also saved a bundle using Priceline over the years.
For adventurous travelers going overseas who are looking to save money during a vacation stay, why not think about forgoing the hotel routine altogether? Services like HomeExchange.com and Home-Swap.com let you enjoy free international accommodations by using someone else’s home during your stay–and letting them use yours at the same time.
You can also save by checking out the summer promotions offered by , the Marriott Hotel has a special Marriott Summer Hotel promotion offering free breakfast, free Internet and late checkout, as well as a discount at Marriott Spas and Resorts that includes 20% off spa services and golfing.