Technically speaking, we are just a few days into summer right now, and not to be a Debbie Downer, but the daylight won’t be getting too much longer.
However, this shouldn’t stop you from taking a weekend trip to the shore (also known as beach), Poconos, Six Flags or even the faraway land of Miami. Whether you are travelling 5 or 5,000 miles, here’s what you need to know to get around on a budget this summer season.
The airline industry is currently seeing record profits across the board as major airlines around the world, including JetBlue (yes, even our beloved JetBlue) are increasing the number of seats and decreasing the legroom.
Not to mention that only a select few airlines still offer a free checked bag, and forget about it if you have two. Southwest Airlines is the only domestic carrier to offer two free checked bags according to farecompare.com.
Even as oil prices drop, airline fares are expected to rise since demand is up.
Here are some tips for the airlines:
1. Do your research.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for cheap fares using third party websites like Cheapoair.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, etc. and try bundling your trip with a hotel and car (if you need one) to save some extra money.
2. Be aware of extra charges.
You may see low fares on websites, but depending on the airline you are flying, understand the extra charges like carry-on limitations, checked bag fees and snack fees. Although with the snacks, def try and eat before you get on the plane.
3. Plan in advance.
A last minute, spontaneous trip is always fun, but planning ahead can save money and potentially lock you in with the best airfare deals. Where is this sweet spot for planning ahead? The rule of thumb, according to cheapair.com, is 47 days.
Generally, a good booking window, according to the website, is one to four months in advance.
Also, if you choose to keep visiting a website to look at rates, it’s a good idea to delete your cookies after each visit, since they do track how many times you come to their site and may jack up the price if you keep coming back.
4. Pack lightly.
This may be hard for some, but it can be done. You do not need to pack your entire wardrobe for a weekend trip.
Roll your clothes instead of folding them. If you must check a bag, make sure to have some overnight clothes in your carry-on in case your bag gets lost by the airline. Fitting everything into a carry-on is the ideal, since there’s a good chance this will save you both money and time. You can then use the extra funds to buy a margarita or four.
For those who don’t like flying, or just plan on doing a day/overnight trip somewhere close by, getting around with a car will be better today than in past years.
AAA (American Automobile Association) reported that this past Memorial Day weekend saw the largest number of travelers in over a decade. One can only imagine what that will mean for the upcoming July 4th weekend. Pretty much the only thing that people care about for the automobile situation are the gas prices.
As of this past Friday, the national average for gas prices was $2.80. Last year at this time, the national average was around $3.68. The trend shows that there really isn’t too much of a drastic fluctuation when it comes to this summer’s gas prices.
It is likely they will stay under $3.00, but don’t expect them to drop too much lower. Since gas prices are cheaper than last year, expect more cars on the road and possibly more traffic as you try to make it to your summer destination.
If you’re in California or New York – sorry, you’ll be paying more than your neighboring states. The cheapest gas can be found in the Midwest and Southern regions. It can also be found in New Jersey.
Going home for the weekend to see family? If you’re in acceptable range to take the bus, do so. This is a prime choice for last-minute trips. Tickets aren’t too expensive compared to last year, since gas prices are down (as mentioned above).
Tickets on Amtrak are still pretty expensive, as they have been for several years. However, you can find good fares if you book some time in advance.
The best way to book is more than 2 weeks in advance on Amtrak and look for their Super Saver option when looking at prices.
Also, if you’re still a student, try to take advantage of their student advantage card, which can take off 10-15% off your fare. Student discounts are awesome. Graduates, hold on to those embarrassing school IDs because they can be lifesavers sometimes.
Happy and safe travels!