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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

Airbnb data shows how tourism has dispersed post-pandemic

In the Philippines, almost half of local Airbnb hosts surveyed said their earnings have helped them navigate rising costs of living including housing, daily necessities, and home improvement needs.

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As the travel rebound continues to unfold, the benefits of tourism are spreading across the Asia Pacific. In Southeast Asia, new analysis by Airbnb reveals that the resurgence in domestic and inbound tourism is empowering locals to earn a living and make ends meet.

With people continuing to embrace flexible new approaches to travel and living, communities that have traditionally missed out in the past are increasingly well-positioned to secure a bigger slice of the tourism pie, according to new Airbnb report Further Afield: Spreading the Benefits of the Travel Revolution’. Across the region, this has presented fresh opportunities for locals looking to supplement their income as they grapple with rising costs of living.

Across the Asia Pacific, Airbnb nights booked in non-urban areas have increased in South Korea (up more than 180 percent ), India (up about 140 percent), and Australia (up about 60 percent) in Q2 2022 as compared to Q2 2019. In Southeast Asia, searches for stays in Siquijor in the Philippines surged by more than 280 percent while searches for Marang in Malaysia almost doubled.

The typical earnings for non-urban Hosts increased correspondingly in the same period for a number of destinations. In Australia and South Korea, typical host earnings have more than doubled as travel returned in full force. In the Philippines, almost half of local Airbnb hosts surveyed said their earnings have helped them navigate rising costs of living including housing, daily necessities, and home improvement needs.

Not only are travelers eyeing destinations off the beaten path, they’re also looking to stay longer. Notably,nights booked for long-term stays (stays longer than 28 days) in non-urban areas approximately doubled in popular travel and remote working hotspot Thailand in Q2 2022, up from Q2 2019 pre-pandemic.

In Southeast Asia, a number of destinations outside major metropolitan hubs were popular  among travelers on Airbnb for long-term stays in Q2 2022. Examples included:

  • Dapa, Panglao, Dumaguete and Silang in the Philippines
  • Ipoh, Kuah, Semenyih, and Port Dickson in Malaysia
  • Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Lanta and Krabi in Thailand

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: “More than two years since the start of the pandemic, we continue to see fundamental shifts in travel that are creating new opportunities for off-the-beaten-track communities. It’s incredibly exciting to see travelers so enthusiastic about exploring new destinations, as well as the positive economic impact cascading to locals.

“The increasing popularity of Dapa, Panglao, Dumaguete and Silang reinforce the importance of the Department of Tourism’s plans to drive tourism development in the countryside and promote lesser-known destinations.  We are committed to continuing to work together with governments and stakeholders to keep inspiring travelers to step off the beaten path, and help ensure more communities can share in the benefits of tourism.”

In addition to encouraging travelers to explore further afield through innovative search tools such as Categories and I’m Flexible, Airbnb remains committed to partnering with governments and communities in Southeast Asia, including in the Philippines. The company has partnered with Thailand and Indonesia’s tourism authorities on a range of ‘Live and Work Anywhere’ initiatives to attract global digital nomads and remote workers, as part of broader efforts to drive inbound tourism as travel returns.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this press release, including, but not limited to, statements regarding travel trends, the travel industry and the future of travel, the behavior of Hosts and guests and about our future performance, prospects, plans and objectives are forward-looking statements.

In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “will,” “plan,” “expect,” “could,” “potential,” “objective,” or “continues” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations. Although we believe that we have a reasonable basis for each forward-looking statement contained in this press release, we cannot guarantee that the future results, levels of activity, or events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur at all.

Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from the objectives expressed or implied in this press release. Therefore, you should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the effects and duration of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic on us, the travel industry, travel trends, and the global economy generally; any further and continued decline or disruption in the travel and hospitality industries or economic downturn; changes in political, business, and economic conditions, including current geopolitical tensions and regional instability; and the other risks listed or described from time to time in Airbnb’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), including Airbnb’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2022 and subsequent Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks, which are, or will be, on file with the SEC and available on the investor relations page of Airbnb’s website.

All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release and are based on information and estimates available to us as of the date of this press release. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise any information contained in this press release, except as required by law.

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Destinations

Exploring the largest cave system in the Philippines

Caves are underground chambers, usually situated in mountains, hills or cliffs. Generations of imaginative fear-mongers have made them the home of everything from treasure-hoarding dragons to a whip-wielding Balrog. In reality, caves are special ecosystems which need our protection, particularly from unscrupulous miners who would break apart tons of rock for a handful of precious stones.

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By Gregg Yan

The Philippines has over 3100 known caves. Featuring 12 chambers over its seven kilometer span, the Langun-Gobingob Cave in Samar is the king of them all. Discovered by Italian Guido Rossi in 1987, it was opened to the public in 1990.

We recently explored it to celebrate the Year of the Protected Areas or YOPA, which aims not just to convince people to conserve the country’s 246 protected areas, but to encourage them to visit the sites themselves.

Caves are underground chambers, usually situated in mountains, hills or cliffs. Generations of imaginative fear-mongers have made them the home of everything from treasure-hoarding dragons to a whip-wielding Balrog. In reality, caves are special ecosystems which need our protection, particularly from unscrupulous miners who would break apart tons of rock for a handful of precious stones.

Unique But Threatened Biodiversity

Samar Island, overshadowed by more popular places like Palawan and Boracay, isn’t usually considered a top tourist destination, owing to its long history as a hotbed for insurgencies and a punching bag for typhoons. Though the Philippines’ thirdlargest island exudes rugged beauty, its real value as an ecotourism destination lies beneath the earth.

“Samar is unique because it is a karst landscape made primarily of limestone. Millions of years of weathering has created numerous caves and sinkholes on the island,” explains Anson Tagtag, head of the Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division of the DENR. “Caves are special ecosystems which harbor highly-evolved fauna, most of which have adapted to darkness.”

Birds, bats, spiders, snakes, crickets and even blind cave fish thrive inside the Langun-Gobingob Cave. The lack of light confines plants to entrances, but mushrooms and other types of fungi cling to life as discreet denizens of the dark.

“The speleothems or rocks in caves are in a very real sense ‘alive’ – they just grow and move at timescales difficult for people to comprehend,” explains Dr. Allan Gil Fernando, a professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in UP Diliman. “The constant dripping of water for instance leaves minute traces of minerals like calcite. Over time these traces pile up to form hanging stalactites and their inverted kin, stalagmites. It takes about a century for a stalactite or stalagmite to grow one inch.”

It is because of their surreal beauty that many caves are sundered.

“People used to enter the Langun-Gobingob Cave to break apart and mine stalagmites plus white calcite rocks for collectors,” says Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) Assistant Superintendent Eires Mate. Our guide Alvin confirms this. “Locals used to mine the cave for Taiwanese businessmen, who paid a paltry PHP7 for a kilogram of rock. Balinsasayao or swiftlet nests were plucked out too, to be shipped to Chinese markets.”

The cave was finally declared a protected area in 1997. “Thank God for legal protection. Mining was effectively stopped,” says Eires. The Langun-Gobingob Cave is just one of many natural systems benefiting from the country’s protected area system.

“Declaring key biodiversity sites as protected areas is one of the best ways to ensure that future generations can continue enjoying their beauty,” says United Nations Development Programme Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP-BIOFIN) Manager Anabelle Plantilla. “Visitors should positively support local communities but be mindful of the environmental impacts of their travels. They should for instance, avoid taking wild plants or leaving trash in tourist sites.”

Year of the Protected Areas

Launched in May of 2022, YOPA hopes to generate funds from tourists to ensure the continued management of protected areas hard-hit by COVID-19 budget cuts.

The Langun-Gobingob Cave is part of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), one of YOPA’s six highlighted parks, the others being the Bongsanglay Natural Park in Masbate, Apo Reef Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Negros Oriental, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, and Mt. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument in Camiguin.

The country’s caves are now open for tourism, but visitors should know what not to do inside them. “Cave tourism should be well managed and there are cave do’s and don’ts,” says Buddy Acenas from the GAIA Exploration Club, a Manila-based caving and exploration group. “A comprehensive assessment should be conducted before a cave is opened for tourism. Trained guides and set trails should be used to minimize human impacts. Like so many of our fragile wilderness areas, caves must be stewarded by those visiting them.”

For its part, the Philippine government is doing what it can to promote responsible tourism. “Our caves, mountains, beaches and other protected areas are now open for tourism. We invite both Filipinos and foreigners to come and visit, but to do so in an environmentally-responsible manner,” adds DENR-BMB Director Natividad Bernardino. “By practicing responsible and regenerative tourism in PAs, we’re helping our national parks flourish and recover from the economic blow they suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Travel

3 Ways to travel during hurricane season like a pro

Typically, hurricane season is June through November. If you’re planning on traveling to a coastal region soon, Yonder Travel Insurance has created a list of three expert tips to help make it a bit easier.

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Photo by Thom Holmes from Unsplash.com

Weather is a factor most travelers take into consideration as they plan their trips. Although traveling during hurricane season shouldn’t make you rethink your plans, being informed before you depart is wise.

Typically, hurricane season is June through November. If you’re planning on traveling to a coastal region soon, Yonder Travel Insurance has created a list of three expert tips to help make it a bit easier.

Be Weather Aware

Staying on top of the weather radar can help you mitigate changes to your trip. An easy way to be alerted if there’s a hurricane brewing is to check the National Hurricane Center or enroll your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). That way, you’ll automatically be alerted about safety conditions and your family will be notified of your whereabouts if you get caught in a storm during your trip.

Buy Travel Insurance Early

Luckily, most travel insurance policies include coverage in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. The key here is to purchase travel insurance early before a storm arises.

“We recommend purchasing travel insurance after you’ve booked your trip. If you wait until the news brings up adverse weather and you decide to cancel your trip, it may not be covered under your policy,” says Terry Boynton, Co-Founder and President of Yonder. In addition to cancellation coverage, your baggage could be covered if it’s lost or damaged amongst the shuffle of delayed or canceled flights during your trip.

Pack & Plan Smart

Even if the forecast looks promising for the duration of your trip, packing a few emergency essentials and having an emergency departure plan in place shouldn’t be thrown out the window. Adding items like a mini-battery powered flashlight, a small first aid kit, a few granola bars, and extra cash won’t take up precious luggage space, but could be a life-saver in an emergency.

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