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How not to overpay for your vacation.

Cailey Rizzo
June 02, 2017

The urge to travel is always stronger in the summer months. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, AAA estimates that about 35 percent of Americans will pack up on for a summer trip.

But travelers trying to stretch their budget as far as possible in the warmer months should know a few tricks and tips before booking their getaways.

Be flexible

The best way to save money is to have a bit of leeway with dates. If you can swing it, leaving a day or two earlier or later could save travelers hundreds of dollars in airfare. And avoiding peak travel is always smart: Prices for travel jump on weekends — especially long weekends. Consider traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday to nab the cheapest airfare of the week. Waiting until the end of the summer can also yield big savings. Travel prices tend to go down after mid-August when kids start to go back to school.

The same goes for saving time on the road: Use the “Arrive by” option on Google Maps to get an estimate of when you should leave. For example, while a trip from San Diego to Los Angeles typically takes two hours, Google Maps suggests giving yourself up to four hours if you want to arrive by 7 p.m. the Friday before the Fourth of July.

Know your apps

Travel + Leisure's list of the 50 best travel apps for 2017 include many that will save you money. Dealray is great for cheap flights, AirHelp can get you compensiation for delays and cancelations, AutoSlash will help you make sure you're getting the best car rental rate, Roomer will help you find discount hotel rooms — check out the full list.

Be open-minded

Frugal travelers should be open-minded to destinations they may not have previously considered. By using Skyscanner’s “search anywhere” feature or KAYAK Explore, travelers can find cheap travel to places that weren’t even on their radar. After putting in the dates they wish to jet off, travelers may even find it cheaper to travel internationally than to stay close to home.

Be skeptical

Compare prices on bundled vacations to what it would cost to purchase airfare, hotel nights and rental cars separately. That way you'll definitely know which is the better deal. And the same goes for booking engines — it never hurts to compare prices.

According to a study from Frommer’s, Skyscanner and Momondo are the best for grabbing low airfare, but it will only take a few minutes to check Google Flights, Skyscanner, and the airline's website, too.

Comparing prices is even more important for hotels, with prices varying across websites and also devices. Frommer’s found that Booking.com found the cheapest rates.

Stay somewhere new

Consider all your options when looking for the cheapest place to stay in town. Travelers who have already decided on a destination can check not just hotels, but also Airbnb and other homesharing sites and even hostels to see if there’s a great deal available.

Related: 17 up-and-coming neighborhoods on Airbnb

Book early

Book end of summer travel as early in the season as you can. Domestic airfare is generally at its cheapest about two months before the departure date — although this can fluctuate wildly so be sure to keep an eye out for a great deal. It's too late to follow this tip for most summer travel, but you can take the opportunity to plan ahead for the fall and winter. Now is the time to set an airfare price alert on Google Flights or Hopper for trips you want to take in the next year.

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