6 tips to track down the hottest summer vacation bargains

Budgeting For A Summer Vacation
Budgeting For A Summer Vacation

Summer is practically synonymous with vacation, but planning a trip during the most popular travel season can get pricey. Whether you want to book a trip alone or with family, on a moment's notice or well in advance, these six tips can help you scale back summer travel costs.

Bundle Your Travel Expenses

You can shave hundreds off your trip by purchasing multiple services at once. For example, if you will need a combination of flights, lodging and attraction tickets, consider booking package deal, which is often less expensive than booking each component separately. And whether you're looking for bargain-priced luxury hotels or budget-friendly backpacking adventures, you're apt to find the affordable vacation you want on deal-focused sites like LivingSocial Escapes, which features travel packages for family-friendly escapes, flight-inclusive escapes and more. On top of giving you a rock-bottom vacation price, LivingSocial Escapes offers a Good Deal Guarantee, which grants you 30 days to return an unused voucher.

Cut Out the Middleman

If you need room to spread out and want a great deal, take a look at the properties listed on VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner), which allows you to rent a property directly from the owner, and eliminates the fees charged by rental management companies. VRBO features more than 1 million vacation rentals at almost every price point. Plus, most rentals offer amenities like free high-speed Internet, and extras like portable playpens, beach toys and bikes at no extra charge. Best of all, VRBO rentals typically come with fully equipped kitchens, so your family can save even more cash by dining in.

Don't Overlook Deal-Focused Sites

Many travel booking sites offer handy tools that allow you to snag bargains at last minute. Priceline's Name Your Own Price Tool, for example, lets you bid on hotels, flights and rental cars. Meanwhile, Priceline's Express Deals tool allows you to choose from a wide selection of hotels that are up to 60 percent off without requiring any bidding. Before you book, you can browse the neighborhood, amenities and price of the hotel you're interested in. And for spur-of-the-moment travel, download the Priceline app and tap into its Tonight-Only Deals. This tool allows you to search for the day's best-priced lodging, and it reveals important details of the hotel, including the nightly rate and guest ratings, prior to purchase.

Stay Flexible

If you have your heart set on a certain vacation destination and timeframe, your chances to secure a deal will be a bit more limited. However, if you're open to visiting lesser-known locations or taking budget airlines, you can save big. That's where sites like WhichBudget.com come in handy. WhichBudget is a free flight search engine that scans the Web for the lowest prices on plane tickets, including those from low-cost airlines that aren't always featured on larger third-party booking sites. Another benefit of booking with WhichBudget is that you can further customize your departure and arrival settings. The site gives you the option of searching all cheap flights from the airport nearest to you, without having a preset destination punched in, and helps you ensure that you're actually getting the best bargain available.

Look for Deeply Discounted Destinations

There are plenty of budget-friendly summer vacations to be found across the globe. Santo Domingo, one of the Caribbean's most popular cities, and Lisbon, Portugal's stunning coastal gem, are two affordable international destinations. Closer to home, you can book a reasonably priced getaway in places like Fort Lauderdale or Key West, Florida, where summer is an off-peak travel time. Planning a trip to a wallet-friendly destination doesn't have to sacrifice safety, either. In fact, some of the world's safest destinations are not cost prohibitive. Google Flights currently shows round-trip flights from New York City airports to Reykjavik, Iceland, for as low as $603 in June. And thanks to a recovering dollar, you can secure great bargains in destinations across Japan and Canada this summer.

Be Smart About Your Booking Schedule

Oftentimes, you can find low airfare Monday night through Wednesday afternoon, so make sure to book your flights early in the week. Also, keep in mind that flights departing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be less expensive than other days of the week. And to secure the lowest price, make sure to purchase your ticket six weeks prior to a domestic trip and 21 weeks before a European vacation. You should also consider planning your summer trip during early June or the last two weeks of August to dodge peak season prices and crowds.

With these smart money-saving tips, you'll find that it's much easier than you thought to plan a fun summer vacation without breaking the bank. So, start researching now to enjoy a relaxing getaway at a price you can afford.

Check out some of the best family vacation destinations below:

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