Make Ends Meet: Tips to save on summer travel

Travel can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to cut costs if you take a little time and a little planning.
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 6:01 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - If the lines at Louisville’s International Airport are any indication, people are ready to travel this summer, but inflation is putting a strain on families’ budgets.

Travel can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to cut costs if you take a little time and a little planning.

Cecilia Seiden, Vice President of Travel and Hospitality for TransUnion Consumer Credit Reporting Agency, shared they recently conducted a survey to better understand how inflation and economic uncertainty impacted plans for spring and summer travel this year, and the results were surprising.

“46% of American consumers are planning to travel more than last year and 47% are planning to travel the same amount as last year,” Seiden said. “Despite rising inflation and economic uncertainty, I think people would rather pair down on discretionary purchases and save all those pennies to travel.”

American travelers appear to not be deterred by Covid concerns or economic uncertainty.

“We passed pre-pandemic levels of travel for Memorial Day weekend from 2019,” Seiden said. “Despite budget challenges coming out of the pandemic, people aren’t taking it for granted anymore and people are taking advantage of the opportunities they have to get out there.”

Lots of families cannot wait to get on the road again. It is often cheaper to drive than fly, especially for shorter trips and with larger groups.

BeFrugal offers a Fly or Drive calculator to help you decide which method of travel is cheaper.

“The second thing we saw consumers doing to save money is actually engaging in more budget-friendly activities at their destination,” Seiden said.

Bike, hike or go to the beach instead of paying the price for a ticketed venue. Explore food trucks or cook for yourself instead of restaurant meals. Stay with friends or family even for a day or two instead of pricey hotels.

“We saw families placing a very big emphasis on loyalty points and rewards,” Seiden said. “That can help them in the long run as they accumulate these points to fund future vacations.”

If you decide to fly, the skies are cheaper and a bit more friendly depending on when and how you book your flight.

“So, if you haven’t booked yet, and you have the option to leave let’s say midweek instead of on a weekend, that’s going to save you both from increased prices, but you also see fewer crowds,” Seiden said.

Before you fly, sail or drive, think about any membership, organization or employee discounts you may qualify for. It might save you big bucks on any hotel, rental car, dining establishment or attraction you may enjoy.

“Students, senior citizens, veterans, AAA members and they’re not publicized, so it doesn’t hurt to ask,” Seiden said. “It might save you 10-20% off.”

Remember to set a budget and stick to it. You can also set fare alerts with your favorite airline or comparison website. You will get a notification when prices drop. Last, all-inclusive vacations are often the way to go.

Folks are traveling, just do it smart.