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Summer Travel 2024: 7 Ways To Afford Your Vacation With Rising Costs



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In this year’s Summer of Savings survey, GOBankingRates found that 76% of people have had their summer travel plans impacted by inflation. A little over half of respondents said they’re opting for a more affordable vacation, like a staycation, than what they’d initially planned. Roughly 25% of those surveyed indicated they aren’t going to take a vacation at all because of rising costs.

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Many people who do still plan to take a trip somewhere are looking for ways to cut costs. For example, a little over half of respondents said they’ll drive rather than use any other sort of transportation — like airplanes or cruises. Nearly one-quarter said they’ll stay at a friend or family member’s home to save money on accommodations.

Along with this, most people responded that they’re trying to keep their travel budget to under $2,000 this summer. Only about 14% indicated their travel budget exceeds $2,000.

While inflation’s impact on travel can’t be denied, there are still ways to make travel more affordable this year. Here are the big ones, according to experts.

Choose an Affordable Destination

“Part of it is planning and picking an affordable destination,” said Echo Wang, CEO and founder of Cool Travel Vibes. “Popular spots come with a price tag.”

As Wang pointed out, lesser-known or less popular destinations often have the added benefit of being less crowded. Plus, you’re more likely to experience the local charm without so many other tourists around.

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Stay Somewhat Local

Airfare has risen substantially in the past few years, thanks to inflation. One way to save money on your vacation is to stick with places that don’t require a plane ticket.

“Ditch the plane and drive,” said Janice Moskoff, a travel expert at Gather and Go Travel. “In addition to saving on airfare, you will likely save on rental cars, especially if you plan to drive your own vehicle.”

The money you save on airfare could be put toward other things, like experiences or accommodations. Or you could flat out save it. And if you don’t drive too far away, you can even save on gas.

But if you still want to fly somewhere, being flexible with where you go could be key to affording rising costs.

“Go where the airfare is the most affordable,” Moskoff said. “Use free tools, like open-ended airfare search tools like Google Explore or price drop alert emails from memberships from sites like Going to discover the best flight deals.”

Take Things Slow

“Instead of jet-setting from one destination to another, like multiple cities on a European trip, use one place as a base and do day trips,” Moskoff said. “Then, take advantage of trains, buses, and public transportation to get around. Although doing this may take more time, you will still see a great deal, get to know one region exceptionally well, and happily, save a ton.”

This method works even better if you find a great deal on accommodations wherever you go. For instance, if you can stay at an inexpensive — but safe and clean– motel or with someone you know, you might be able to offset the costs of traveling slowly this way.

According to The Hotel Monitor, hotel rates are expected to rise by as much as 17.5% in certain cities over the course of 2024. Steer clear of expensive hotels or Airbnbs though, as these can cut into your travel budget quite a bit. Instead, check out local hostels and see if they offer any discounts for longer stays.

Stick With Cheap or Free Activities

The average rate of inflation was 4.1% in 2023. This means that the cost of everyday goods and services — including many of the activities you can expect to pay for while traveling — has gone up.

To keep things affordable this year, choose activities or events that are either free or nearly free.

“Some of the most affordable things to do while traveling include hiking, walking, and water activities. These things, when done unguided, are often free or low-cost, even if a rental is required, helping you stretch your budget further,” Moskoff said.

If you’re going somewhere new and aren’t sure what’s in the area, do some research as you plan your trip.

“Research top outdoor activities in your destination via internet searches and guidebooks, then use the free or low-cost paid versions of apps like AllTrails for hiking and biking or GoPaddling for kayaking and canoeing to help you plan and guide your activity,” Moskoff said.

Plan Around Exchange Rates

Avoid planning a trip to any place where your currency loses significant purchasing power.

“The dollar is strong right now, so going to places that use a currency that’s weak against the dollar can make your dollar go further,” said Scott Lieberman, founder of Touchdown Money. “For example, in May 2024, each U.S. dollar was worth about $1.50 Australian. In Canada, the U.S. dollar was worth $1.36. Finding countries where the exchange rate favors you can mean savings.”

Skip the Car Rental

Renting a car can easily add a couple of hundred dollars to your trip, if not more. But prices can go way up depending on the type of car you get, how long you plan to use it, the rental company itself and what type of insurance you need.

If possible, skip the rental car altogether and take public or less expensive transportation options to and from the places you need to get to.

“Explore the local culture and scenery on foot, or use public transportation,” Wang said.

And if you do decide to get a rental car, see if you can use your own insurance — or your credit card — to avoid having to purchase the rental agency’s policy. This could save you money, too.

Choose Cheaper or Newer Flight Routes

“When airlines add routes, consumers win. If an airline is serving a new destination, that’s good news for two reasons. First, a discount airline can bring much lower prices to that destination. Second, that means legacy carriers will have to match,” Lieberman said. “If there’s a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Mexico on a discount carrier, American Airlines won’t allow that for long before lowering its prices.”

If you have some flexibility in your trip, or if you’re not committed to a specific airline, keep an eye out for special deals or newer routes and weigh your options. You’ll still have to spend some money on airfare, just a lot less of it.

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This article originally appeared on Summer Travel 2024: 7 Ways To Afford Your Vacation With Rising Costs

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