With the weather warming up and images of travel getaways looking even sweeter than before, you are probably looking forward to (or trying to figure out how to afford) getting some vacation time this summer. Even if your trip seems miles or months away, you can start figuring out how to save for it now. No matter what type of travel you have planned, take a look at these five ways you can pay less and travel more.
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1. Know Your Style & Budget
Everyone travels differently, so it’s a good idea to identify what type of vacation or travel you want to have before you hit the road. Whether you are in the mood for beach time, big city exploration or extreme outdoors, it’s important to evaluate locations based on what you enjoy. Next comes creating a budget you can stick to for the place itself (staying in a hotel in the middle of New York City will likely be more expensive than camping at a national park) and your goals for your time there.
2. Research — & Let the Deal Inspire You
It’s important to schedule some research time ahead of your trip. There are tons of deals websites out there where you can find discounted prices on travel, accommodations and activities. This can be especially helpful if you know what you want to get out of the vacation (relaxation, beach time or city exploration) but aren’t tied to a specific location. Even if you can’t find a vacation package that interests you, look for coupons for certain aspects of the trip you do want. Thorough research can help you save time and money and avoid “tourist traps.”
3. Know When to Buy Airfare
Speaking of research, it’s a good idea to find out the best time to book your travel. Online resources can be great tools to finding the cheapest travel ideas. Use multiple sources to price out your travel and look for the value in non-peak travel times if you are able to schedule it. Even if you have to travel during a busy time, you can save big just by flying mid-week or buying your flight or hotel at the right time. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are usually best for securing discount rates and booking about eight weeks in advance seems to be the sweet spot.
4. Rent From the Owner
Think outside the hotel box. Whether you look into hostels or search Airbnb to find local hosts that will rent out their extra space or property, you can save big by avoiding the hotel. These options are often in good locations to give you an authentic experience. Many even have kitchens that can help you cut down on dining-out costs as well.
5. Maximize Rewards
Whether it is with your credit card or through a vacation and travel points program, you can save big if you take the time to understand your rewards. It’s important to make sure you are spending and using wisely along the way to help stock up for and make the most of your summer experience.
Many of us love to travel to take a break from the norm, but money can be a deterring factor. This summer, make sure you get the adventure or relaxation you crave without setting yourself back financially. You don’t want to go into debt that you could potentially be paying for months after your vacation is over. And you certainly don’t want to acquire so much debt that it has a negative impact on your credit score. If you do find yourself carrying a balance as a result of your summer fun, it can help to come up with a plan to pay it off (this credit card payoff calculator can help you do that). You may also want to get into the habit of checking your credit scores regularly so you can become more aware of how your debts affect your credit. You can get two of your credit scores for free, updated every month on Credit.com.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
AJ Smith is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online content. She currently serves as the managing editor for SmartAsset. AJ has a passion for meeting new people, sharing stories and helping others. She has degrees from Princeton University and Mississippi State University. AJ and her husband also write and illustrate educational children’s books. More by AJ Smith