5 careless, costly summer travel mistakes to avoid

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Top 5 Travel Mistakes To Avoid

Summertime, and the living is easy. But lose your head on those sun-soaked days and you will live to regret it come autumn.

We all tend to relax a little more and have fun during summer months. And that's OK. But when planning this year's summer vacation, don't make foolish moves that could potentially wash your budget away with the tide.

Following are five costly summer travel mistakes — and how to avoid them.

1. Forgetting to keep track of your mail

Summer is the season of vacations. But before you leave for a week at a beach or 10 days at Yellowstone, don't forget to take care of your mail. Letting letters, magazines and miscellaneous ads pile up — even for just a few days — tells thieves you are not at home.

A home invasion — and all the valuables that disappear in the process — is a sure budget-buster. Crooks also can steal your mail, and then use the personal information within it to steal your identity.

So, if you plan to be gone for long periods of time, don't forget to ask a trusted neighbor empty the mailbox. Or, place a hold on your mail.

And if you are going to be gone for an especially long time, make sure someone pays your bills for you. Or better yet, go paperless and pay bills via the internet.

Click through to see 19 affordable summer vacation ideas around the world:

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19 Cheapest Vacation destinations
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5 careless, costly summer travel mistakes to avoid

No. 19. Phuket, Thailand — $171.01

Taxi: $1.99

Hotel: $117.73

Meal: $27.23

Pint of beer: $2.54

Cup of coffee: $2.73

Bottle of wine: $18

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 18. Sao Paulo, Brazil — $168.15

Taxi: $3.18

Hotel: $126.48

Meal: $29.89

Pint of beer: $1.43

Cup of coffee: $1.74

Bottle of wine: $9.89

(Photo: Shutterstock)

No. 17. Barcelona, Spain — $159.45

Taxi: $7.80

Hotel: $94.34

Meal: $43.02

Pint of beer: $4.73

Cup of coffee: $2.26

Bottle of wine: $5.62

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 16. Toronto, Canada — $158.53

Taxi: $10.26

Hotel: $115.51

Meal: $49.97

Pint of beer: $4.21

Cup of coffee: $3.17

Bottle of wine: $11.33

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 15. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — $148.17 

Taxi: $4.75

Hotel: $115.88

Meal: $29.89

Pint of beer: $1.70

Cup of coffee: $1.71

Bottle of wine: $9.57

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 14. Antalya, Turkey —$141.48

Taxi: $3.72

Hotel: $104.57

Meal: $16.60)

Pint of beer: £2.50 ($3.53)

Cup of coffee: £1.88 ($2.66)

Bottle of wine: £5.66 ($8)

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 13. Prague, Czech Republic — $134.14

Taxi: $2.97

Hotel: $121.86

Meal: $23.88

Pint of beer: $1.41

Cup of coffee: $2.11

Bottle of wine: $5.27

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 12. Gran Canaria, Spain — $125.33

Taxi: $2.08

Hotel: $85.92

Meal: $37.65

Pint of beer: $2.30

Cup of coffee: $2.03

Bottle of wine: $7

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 11. Berlin, Germany — $114.83

Taxi: $12.90

Hotel: $65.60

Meal: $43.02

Pint of beer: $3.49

Cup of coffee: $2.91

Bottle of wine: $5.65

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 10. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — $114.83

Taxi: $1.06

Hotel: $72.88

Meal: $15.19

Pint of beer: $4.47

Cup of coffee: $2.83

Bottle of wine: $15.01

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 9. Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — $111.44

Taxi: $1.94

Hotel: $61.83

Meal: $40.30

Pint of beer: $3.02

Cup of coffee: $1.22

Bottle of wine: $7.24

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 8. Corfu, Greece — $110.86

Taxi: $7.60

Hotel: $60.02

Meal: $29.58

Pint of beer: $3.35

Cup of coffee: $2.90

Bottle of wine: $12

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 7. Auckland, New Zealand — $103.16

Taxi: $10.13

Hotel: $64.11

Meal: $54.90

Pint of beer: $4.93

Cup of coffee: $3.09

Bottle of wine: $11.01

(Photo: Shutterstock)

No. 6. Faro, Portugal — $95.50

Taxi: $1.48

Hotel: $54.26

Meal: $32.26

Pint of beer: $3.79

Cup of coffee: $1.20

Bottle of wine: $5

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 5. Cape Town, South Africa — $93.30

Taxi: $8.42

Hotel: $70.36

Meal: $24.24

Pint of beer: $1.63

Cup of coffee: $1.58

Bottle of wine: $5.45

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 4. Hanoi, Vietnam — $89.25

Taxi: $1.72

Hotel: $58.31

Meal: $15.23

Pint of beer: $0.66

Cup of coffee: $1.55

(Photo: Getty Images)

Glass of wine: £7.08 ($10.01)

No. 3. Bangkok, Thailand — $86.82

Taxi: $2.49

Hotel: $52.46

Meal: $21.79

Pint of beer: $2.76

Cup of coffee: $2.64

Bottle of wine: $16

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 2. Tenerife, Spain — $82.92

Taxi: $4.11

Hotel: $55.81

Meal: $34.96

Pint of beer: $2.11

Cup of coffee: $1.43

Bottle of wine: $5.09

(Photo: Getty Images)

No. 1. Budapest, Hungary — $57.01

Taxi: $6.57

Hotel: $32.83

Meal: $27.66

Pint of beer: $1.57

Cup of coffee: $1.77

Glass of wine: $5.04

(Photo: Getty Images)

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2. Getting careless with valuables at the beach

Few things say "summer" like a day at the beach. But before you frolic in the waves, don't forget to secure your valuables, including keys, wallets and phones.

There are many approaches here. The simplest is a waterproof bag that can house all of your belongings. It will keep them together in a single location, safe and dry. Or, you can get more elaborate, such as buying a waterproof case for your phone.

These things can protect your valuables from water, or keep them from being lost. But keeping them away from thieves is trickier. You could try a lock-safe bag, but determined thieves are tough to stop.

A waterproof fanny pack is another possible option because it allows you to keep valuables with you at all times. But you may wind up with a funky tan line.

It's probably better just to use your smarts. The Krazy Coupon Lady has some good suggestions:

Try to sit close to lifeguard stands, security guard booths, beach attendant stands, etc.

She also recommends a buddy system, where everyone in your party takes turns watching over items while the rest enjoy the water.

3. Traveling at peak times

Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are the big three summer holidays. Most people have these days off, and it's tempting to combine that day with a few workplace vacation days and schedule a trip.

But it might make more sense to travel at another time. Not only are your favorite attractions likely to be more crowded during those holidays, but costs may be higher. According to IndependentTraveler.com:

The crest of summer travel is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, during which fares to most U.S., Canadian and European destinations are at their peak. Three-day weekends around summer holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July are particularly expensive times to fly.

U.S. News & World Report also notes that travel costs of all types are likely to be higher during the most popular times of the summer:

If you can wait until the end of August, you'll find steeper discounts. But take your vacation around the Fourth of July, and expect to pay a lot more.

During summer, the kiddos have nothing but time on their hands. So, schedule a trip during a run-of-the-mill summer week or weekend when everything will be less crowded — and, with any luck, cheaper.

4. Skipping your car's pre-roadtrip checkup

The family summer roadtrip is an American tradition with a long and rich history. But before you hit the highway, it's crucial to have a good mechanic give your wheels the once-over.

Having your car road-ready can save you time and money. Properly inflating your tires and installing clean air filters will increase your gas mileage. And a mechanic who spots a problem that is just developing can save you from a costly — and potentially dangerous — highway breakdown.

Want to save even more money? The Car Care Council offers these tips for a DIY recharge of your air conditioning system — a move that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

5. Paying for insurance you don't need

Worried that a summer storm could flood an area and ruin your vacation plans? If so, you might consider buying travel insurance to reimburse you for the costs in the event that you have to cancel vacation plans.

But before you buy this coverage, make sure you don't already have it. According to CreditCards.com:

Some credit card issuers offer supplemental travel insurance that pays for such things as trip cancellation and lost luggage, so check with your card issuer to see whether you're covered by useful credit card insurance perks.

CreditCards.com also points out that many credit cards offer car rental insurance. Also, in many cases, your own personal car insurance will cover you when driving a rental. So, check with your credit card's issuer and your car insurance company before plonking down money for extra car insurance at the rental counter.

Have you made summer travel mistakes that have dinged you in the wallet? Share your story in our Forums. It's the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Check out more money saving tips for your next road trip below:

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How to save money on a road trip
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5 careless, costly summer travel mistakes to avoid

1. Calculate your expected fuel cost before your trip. It’s always wise to get an accurate estimation of how much to budget for gas beforehand. GasBuddy's fuel calculator is an excellent tool to get an expected price point. Just enter your vehicle information, startpoint and endpoint, and the app will calculate how much you’ll spend.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

2. Don’t fuel up near popular areas. You’ll find inflated gas prices near popular tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, so it’s worth venturing to the town over for more affordable prices. For example, gas costs on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in California are considerably higher than the stations a few miles off the main highway.

Photo credit: Getty

3. Fill up your tank at truck stops. You'll often find the cheapest gas prices here. 

Photo credit: Getty

4. Download gas apps. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru come in handy by computing the cheapest station in relation to your current location.

Photo credit: Getty

5. Drive efficiently to save gas costs. These 5 fuel-efficient tips are proven to maintain a full tank longer:

           1. Turn off your AC

2. Engage cruise control in low-traffic areas

3. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking

4. Inflate tires close to maximum

5. Avoid speeding

Photo credit: Getty

6. Travel with friends. Traveling with a few buddies is an efficient (and fun) way to save cash by splitting the cost of a tank.

Photo credit: Getty

7. Grocery shop in advance. Pack water and snacks beforehand in a cooler -- inflated convenience store prices will eat away at your budget.

Photo credit: Getty

8. Bring reusable water bottles. Filling up a water bottle is cheaper than buying a Poland Spring at every stop.

Photo credit: Getty

9. Buy fountain drinks over bottled drinks. If you’re craving a Mountain Dew, fountain drinks give you a better bang for your buck over bottled soda.

Photo credit: Getty

Use Yelp: Download Yelp on your phone to see the best restaurant offers in your area.

Photo credit: AOL

11. Take advantage of restaurant deals. Chances are there will be tons of chain restaurants along the way, so use sites like Groupon and GiftCardGranny to get a deal on the road.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

12. Load up on free coffee and breakfast from hotels for the road. Take advantage of a free meal and avoid Starbucks and other expensive coffee shops.

Photo credit: Getty

13. Avoid staying in popular areas. Tourist-driven and metropolitan areas are often paired with inflated prices, so find a place to sleep in surrounding towns.

Photo credit: Getty

14. Check out sites like Airbnb, Tripadvisor, and Kayak to score the best low-cost lodging deals.

Photo credit: Getty

15. Rent a car. If you don’t own your own vehicle, renting a car beforehand for as cheap as $22 a day on sites like ExpediaHotwire, and Travelocity can be a great deal.

Photo credit: Getty

16. Alert your bank. Sometimes banks will deem charges in new cities as fraudulent and cancel your cards.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

17. Stick to budget-friendly activities. Some ideas include hiking national parks, visiting beaches and checking out a town’s culture by walking the streets and venturing into a street fair.

Photo credit: Getty

18. Take advantage of student discounts. If you’re currently a student, bring your student ID for maximum discounts.

Photo credit: Getty

19. Download road trip planning apps. Apps like Roadtrippers are a great way to help plan and finance your new excursion.

Photo credit: Getty

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