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11 Ways to save on summer travel

So if you’re looking to plan a “fun in the sun” vacation on a budget, here are 11 of our favorite tips.

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Photo by Tom Cleary from Unsplash.com

Summer is always one of the most expensive times to travel. But 2021 has the potential to be even more busy (and costly) than usual due to pent-up demand caused by the extended COVID-19 lockdowns.

As many individuals and families are looking to make up for lost time this summer, “revenge travel” is already causing prices to spike. As of writing, prices on many hotels and flights are still below pre-pandemic levels. But that’s not the case for every destination and costs are likely to continue to rise as we move further into summer.

What all this means is that it’s not going to be as easy to take a cheap trip this summer as it may have been in the winter or spring. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that there are still many ways to save on summer travel. So if you’re looking to plan a “fun in the sun” vacation on a budget, here are 11 of our favorite tips.

1. Compare Rates on Third-Party Travel Sites

Travel websites are marketplaces that can compare rates from hundreds of airlines, hotels, or car rental agencies at once. Using these sites can save you a lot of time and money when compared to visiting each company’s website separately. Some popular travel sites include:

  • Kayak
  • Expedia
  • TripAdvisor
  • Google Flights
  • Orbitz
  • Booking.com
  • Priceline
  • Hotwire
  • Hotels.com

While these sites can be a great place to start rate-shopping, note that not every travel brand allows third parties to show their prices. Southwest Airlines, for example, has been a long-standing holdout. So after visiting third-party aggregators, you may still want to check out a few individual sites to ensure that you don’t miss any hot deals.

2. Set Price Alerts Using Flexible Dates

Nearly all of the sites above also make it easy to set travel alerts. These are convenient because they allow you to sit back, relax and wait to be notified when the price for your trip drops rather than having to manually check rates each day.

You can set alerts for specific dates if you’d like. But know that if you’re able to be flexible with your plans, you’ll have a better chance of scoring a big discount.

If you work a job that allows you to plan a last-minute trip, saying that you’re available “anytime” or for any “upcoming weekends” could be best. Or, for a little more predictability, you could customize your alert to only notify you about price-drops for dates that fall within a specific month.

3. Redeem Credit Card Rewards Towards Travel

This tip has long been one of my family’s favorite travel hacks. If you’ve been racking up credit card rewards points with your daily-use card, you may be able to redeem those points for free nights and/or flights.

Some credit card issuers allow points to be transferred to a variety of travel partners. Others have their own travel portal where cardholders can book trips with points. And some cards offer both! Check to see what redemption options your card offers.

If you’re looking to take a late summer (or early fall) vacation, you may still have time to apply for a rewards credit card and earn a hefty sign-up bonus before you book your trip. Keep in mind, though, that the most generous cards do usually require excellent credit. You can check your FICO Scores and reports at myFICO.

4. Split a Home Rental With Family or Friends

While renting an entire home using an app like Airbnb or HomeAway can be convenient, it’s unlikely to be the most affordable choice for a single family. But if you’re planning a group vacation, it certainly could be!

For example, let’s say that you’re visiting a city where hotels cost around $100 per night and a 3-bedroom home rental averages $210 per night. If you’re able to split the home with two other families, your per-family cost drops to just $70.

So you’d save $30 per night by choosing the home rental. You could save even more by choosing a house that has a fully-stocked kitchen since you’d have the option to cook a few meals. Plus, a home rental may offer other intangible benefits like a living room where everyone can enjoy movie nights and a backyard for the kiddos to run around.

5. Book Middle-of-The-Week Flights

Often, travelers plan their trips around taking off a traditional Monday-Friday work week. For this reason, weekend flights tend to be most popular. But simple supply and demand dynamics means that those flights are also likely to be more expensive.

Could you start your trip in the middle of the week instead? If so, you’re more likely to find the lowest fares. Historically, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have proven to be the cheapest days to fly.

If you do have to out fly on weekends, try to opt for Saturday rather than Friday evening or Sunday. Flying back on Sunday does give you an extra day to maximize your trip. But this advantage also tends to inflate Sunday fare prices.

6. Fill Your Itinerary With Free Sights and Activities

As a Florida native, I know first-hand how fun theme park vacations can be. But it’s also harder to plan a budget-conscious trip when you’re visiting an amusement park or other ticketed venue each day.

But there are plenty of fun things that you can do for free during your summer getaway. In our family’s case, we enjoy hiking so we love to visit destinations that have plenty of nearby state or national parks.

Also, keep in mind that many national monuments and museums don’t charge for admission. That makes it easier to keep costs low when visiting cities that are packed with historical landmarks like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, or Boston.

7. Take a Road Trip

You may not need to book a flight to visit somewhere new and exciting. There may be plenty of places within driving distance of your home that have a lot to offer.

You’ll not only avoid flight costs by road-tripping, but you also won’t have to worry about booking a rental car or paying for daily rideshares once you reach your destination.

You will have to pay for gas during your trip. But after accounting for fuel costs, you may still be able to save hundreds of dollars by driving yourself to your summer vacation spot. And the larger your family, the higher your potential savings.

8. Visit Cities That Offer Sightseeing Bundles

There are currently 13 cities in the United States along with Toronto, Canada that offer CityPASS tickets. These passes bundle together several of the city’s most popular sights at a reduced overall price.

You may be able to save upwards of 50% by purchasing a CityPASS vs. buying tickets to each individual attraction separately. Our family has bought a CityPASS in three different cities so far and we’ve yet to be disappointed!

9. Look For Kids Stay (or Fly) Free Options

If you’ll be traveling with children this summer, know that certain travel brands offer special freebies that can save parents money. At Holiday Inn, for example, up to two children can be added to their parents’ room at no extra charge. And up to four children per family can eat free at hotel dine-in restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

With Frontier Airlines, one child under 15 can fly free per parent if at least one of the adults is a Discount Den travel club member. For a family of four, this could cut their flight cost in half. However, two blackout dates do apply for the remainder of summer 2021: June 26-July 13th and September 2nd-6th.

10. Stay Away From Major Holidays

All travel-related prices tend to soar on big holidays. So simply steering clear of these dates (and the weekends before and after) could be one of the easiest ways to save on summer travel.

Since Memorial Day has already passed, there are really only two federal holidays left this summer to avoid: Independence Day and Labor Day.

11. Investigate Your In-City Transportation Options

If you’ll be visiting a large metro area on your trip, parking and transportation can be a lot trickier, so you’ll want to think through your strategy. In some cities, leaving your vehicle in a low-cost parking garage and using public transportation could save you time (and hassle) vs. driving everywhere and paying for parking at each stop.

If you’ll be staying in one area for at least 7 days, you may also want to see if the city offers discounts on week-long passes for public parking or transportation. Lastly, if you’ll be flying to your destination, you’ll want to think about whether renting a car or using rideshares and taxis during your stay would be most affordable.

If you’re just planning to hit the beach each day during your summer getaway, booking a rental car may not be worth the money. But if you’ll be doing a lot of driving to spread apart sights, renting a car might actually be far less expensive.

The Bottom Line

This list of 11 ways to save on summer travel is far from exhaustive. If you’re actively looking, you’re likely to find dozens of more ways to cut costs.

So be intentional and plan well. Because the only thing better than a relaxing summer getaway is a relaxing summer getaway that doesn’t break the bank!

Travel

Travelling farther away from home linked to better health

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

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People who travel more outside of their local area feel that they are healthier than those who stay closer to home, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

Those who travel to a wider variety of places are more likely to see friends and family. This increase in social participation is then linked to better health.

Researchers say the results provide strong evidence of the need for investment in medium and long-distance transport options, such as better serviced roads and access to trains and buses.

For the paper, published in Transport & Health, the researchers analysed travel in the north of England, where residents face worse health outcomes than the rest of England and many rural and suburban areas suffer from poor transport accessibility.

Specifically, they looked at the links between perceived constraints to travel outside of the local area, such as a lack of suitable public transport, and self-rated health, considering trip frequency, the number of different places visited, distance travelled, car use and public transport use.

Lead author Dr Paulo Anciaes (UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy & Resources) said: “We expected to find that restrictions on travel through a lack of access to suitable public transport or to a private car would be linked to residents’ perception of their health because of the lack of social participation.

“We explored the links between constraints to travel more than 15 miles from home, demographics and location and social participation in how residents perceived their own health, finding that the key variable is the number of different places people visit outside their local area. This links to more social participation and better health.”

The researchers conducted an online survey of 3,014 nationally representative residents in the north of England. Constraints to travel have previously been identified as contributing to economic disadvantage and a lower sense of wellbeing in the region, but the impact on health hadn’t been analysed before. The team used a research technique called “path analysis”, which uncovers the direct and indirect effects of constraints to travel outside of people’s local area.

The study found that the links between travel constraints, social participation and health are stronger among those aged over 55. Among this group, constraints to the number of different places people can travel to is linked to less frequent contact with friends and participation in clubs and societies.

Dr Anciaes explained: “Those aged over 55 are more likely to face other constraints to travel such as limited mobility. They are also more likely to suffer from loneliness. In the north of England, rural and suburban areas with limited access options are more likely to experience population loss as young people move to the cities in search of work and good travel options. Meanwhile, older generations are left behind in these areas with limited transport options. The range of places they can visit is low, leading to less social participation and lower levels of general health.

“The results of this study emphasise the need for public policies that reduce constraints to travel in the region, by providing better options for private and public transport that allows for more frequent and longer trips.”

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Destinations

The one-and-only Hobbiton from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is now on Airbnb

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

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For the first time ever, fans from around the world can explore the faraway lands of their favorite holiday films with an exclusive overnight stay at the original Hobbiton™ Movie Set. Russell Alexander is inviting guests to his family’s property to live like Bilbo Baggins and retreat to The Shire for an overnight stay at Hobbiton, as featured in the famed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.

Nestled in the picturesque pastures of New Zealand’s Waikato region on a 2,500-acre working farm, the property’s rolling, green hills – bear a striking similarity to The Shire as described by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, and captivated Sir Peter Jackson’s movie scouts more than two decades ago. The team quickly realized the Hobbits had found their home – and this holiday season, it could be yours.

Alexander will host three individual two-night stays for up to four guests at NZD $10 per night* as an homage to the 10th anniversary of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, courtesy of Airbnb.

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

With sweeping views of The Shire, they’ll enjoy:

  • Cozy overnight accommodation curated by the trilogies’ Creative Director Brian Massey, including a writing nook fit for Bilbo Baggins at The Millhouse.
  • Private access to a personal Hobbit Hole, set up for relaxing moments of Preciousss  downtime and afternoon tea.
  • An evening banquet in The Green Dragon Inn with a feast featuring beef and ale stew, whole roast chickens, freshly baked breads and plenty of ale, plus Second Breakfast and Elevenses served daily.
  • A behind-the-scenes private tour of Hobbiton Movie Set.

Now, one does not simply walk into Middle-earth. There are rules.

  • No unexpected parties, please –  unless with Gandalf and company.
  • Bare feet are allowed but wipe them first.
  • Magical rings permitted, but keep them secret, keep them safe.
  • Pony parking is provided only at The Green Dragon Inn.
  • Straying far at night is discouraged, thanks to multiple troll sightings of late.
  • No pets are allowed, except Pickles the resident Hobbiton cat.
  • Never laugh at live dragons…

“For more than two decades, we’ve welcomed millions of passionate fans to Hobbiton Movie Set, but never before has anyone had the opportunity to spend a night in Middle-earth. I am delighted to share the beauty of my family’s farm and pleased to be hosting this iconic location on Airbnb for fans from around the world,” shares Host Russel Alexander.

How to book

Hobbits, elves, wizards and others may request to book one of three overnight stays on Wednesday, December 14 from 10:00AM NZDT/5:00AM PHT at airbnb.com/hobbiton. Stays will take place March 2-4, March 9-11, and March 16-18, 2023. You Shall Not Pass! (without requesting to book, of course).

To request to book, guests must have a verified Airbnb profile, a history of positive reviews and be aged 18+. Maximum occupancy is four persons. Two bedrooms are configured, featuring one queen bed, and the other two king-singles.

Guests are responsible for their own transportation to and from Auckland, New Zealand. Round trip car transportation will be provided for the two-hour journey between the airport and the property. (And just as a Wizard is never late, it’s important our guests arrive at their stay precisely when they mean to).

Travellers looking to book should note that this stay’s rules require strict adherence with local COVID-19 guidelines. Guests are responsible for their own travel to and from Auckland. Airbnb is closely monitoring COVID-19 infection rates and government policies and will offer booking guests a refund of the booking fee ($31) and $1,000 USD Airbnb travel credit if Airbnb determines it is necessary to cancel the stay due to COVID-19 guidelines.

*Plus taxes and fees. These three individual two-night stays are not a contest. The Hobbiton Movie Set is privately owned and operated.

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Destinations

All Nippon Airways launches ‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ campaign

On 11 October of this year, border restrictions were eased, allowing foreign new arrivals including business travelers, students, and technical trainees to finally enter Japan.

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Prior to the pandemic, the Japan Tourism Agency reported the number of foreign visitors traveling to Japan in 2019 hit an all-time high of 31.9 million, 600k of whom were travelers from the Philippines. In 2020, the number dropped drastically to around 4.12 million due to the stringent travel restrictions throughout the pandemic, making Japan one of the world’s most difficult countries to enter.

On 11 October of this year, border restrictions were eased, allowing foreign new arrivals including business travelers, students, and technical trainees to finally enter Japan. With news of Japan’s plans to reopen the country to international travelers, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest 5-star airline are launching “Beyond #MissingJapan” together.

The campaign was inspired by both social media posts of people yearning to travel to Japan and a strong sense of eagerness amongst ANA’s flight crew to welcome visitors back. And Filipinos are eager to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. According to a 2022 Statista survey, Filipinos chose Japan as their top holiday destination. Countries in the EU and US got the 2nd and 3rd choice, respectively.

‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ aims to excite  travelers for their next trip, give them head start on planning, and an insider’s perspective on the island country. The campaign features Paolo from Tokyo, a famous Filipino YouTuber based in Japan, who shares the best that Japan has to offer to both first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike.

Paolo’s travels take us to Greater Tokyo and the hidden gems in the areas around the country’s capital. He rediscovers popular landmarks like Asakusa, shopping mecca Don Quijote, and the iconic Tokyo Station to name a few. Paolo also ventures into “New Tokyo” where lesser-known attractions such as Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Sanagi Shinjuku, and GOTEMBA PREMIUM OUTLETS® are located, must-visit spots that opened after 2020 and are within a few hours from Tokyo.

Get a real-life glimpse of Paolo’s experience in this 360 video that takes you inside the awe-inspiring pop culture haven Tokorozawa Sakura Town and walks you through the temples of Asakusa and Miyashita Park, a rooftop oasis in the heart of bustling Shibuya. The 360 video also gives you a feel of the festive vibe at Sanagi Shinjuku and the shopping that awaits at the endless aisles in Japan’s biggest discount store, Don Quijote, and the more upscale complex, Coredo Muromachi. Always growing and evolving, Tokyo still has so much more to offer

Mr. Isao Ono, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Asia & Oceania from ANA said: “I believe our ‘Beyond #MissingJapan’ campaign will give those who have missed Japan an opportunity to rediscover the country through a series of videos featuring Asia’s most well-loved personalities as well as a 360° first-person perspective of landing in Japan. At ANA, we are committed to providing passengers with the best service in a safe and clean environment. We look forward to welcoming more travelers to Japan soon.”

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