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Save on Your Summer Getaway – Part I

Save on Your Summer Getaway – Part I

Each year, the Staes family travels to a different state for Amateur Athletic Union Basketball finals, which doubles as a week-long summer vacation.  Having three children with varying ages and interests–Ethan, 13; Grace, 10; and Holden, 6–the Staes try to have fun without breaking the bank. “When possible, my husband Steven and I rent a home or condo for the week for $600.  We can cook several meals, enjoy the private pool, and use amenities like the game room,” says Michelle, 41. “When we stay at a hotel, we look for discounts and complimentary breakfast.”

Summer vacations–whether for families, couples, singles or groups–don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In this three-part series, we give you tips to help you stay within your budget while planning your summer getaway.

The authors of Five Star Living on a Two Star Budget (Harvest House Publishers; $9.48), Margaret Feinberg and Natalie Nichols Gillespie, note that flying midweek, booking at least 21 days in advance, being flexible with dates, and using Websites such as Orbitz and Cheap Tickets are all good strategies for getting the best deals on airfare.

Ground travel
Amtrak is a great alternative. There are no baggage fees, snacks are offered, sleeper sofas are available and each seat has an outlet so you can use your laptop, DVD or hand-held video game,” says Nicole Early-Plummer, a travel professional with LTTTravel Connection.

Car rentals
Go directly to the rental car Websites for the best rates.  “Upon locating the online rates, contact the local rental agency to negotiate the best deal,” says Jeff Fortson, editor of JeffCars.com, a car-buying advocacy website for minorities.

In many cases, reserving an economy vehicle in advance at a lower rate almost always ensures a free upgrade. Typically, there aren’t enough economy vehicles in inventory to meet the demand, which leads to free upgrades by the rental agency.  Also, shy away from unnecessary fees associated with rental insurance, pre-paid gas, mileage restrictions, and airport pickup.  And when shopping around for the best deal, make sure to ask if there are any additional fees (such as fuel charges and additional driver fees) that might increase the advertised price.

In Part 2, we’ll give you tips on how to save on lodging, from hotels to resorts and villas.

Leslie Royal is a regular contributor to BlackEnterprise.com.