For many families, summer vacation is an annual ritual, one that everyone looks forward to all year. While often a great time to reconnect and rejuvenate, costs can also quickly get out of hand if travelers haven’t done their homework. To help vacationers keep travel costs in check, AAA has developed a list of tips to help travelers make the most of their money this summer.
Saving in the sky
• Keep travel dates flexible. To obtain the best airfare, be flexible with travel dates and avoid departing and/or returning on a weekend date, or over a holiday weekend. Airlines typically add between $10-$30 to fares during peak travel days during the summer.
• Limit checked bags. Most airlines charge fees upwards of $25 for checked bags each way, which can equate to a price tag of an additional $200 or more for a family of four. Limit checked bags and check with your airline for size and weight limitations, to eliminate incurring costs for oversized or overweight luggage.
• Pack snacks. Free in-flight meals are a thing of the past. Buying a sandwich or snack pack aboard a flight typically costs $5-10. Save money and curb hunger by bringing snacks, either wrapped or in a container, from home.
Saving on the road
• Budget accordingly. With fuel prices higher than last summer, filling up can quickly become a budget-buster. Utilize tools such as the TripTik Travel Planner, TripTik Mobile iPhone app, Fuel Cost Calculator and Fuel Price Finder to help budget in advance and locate the cheapest fuel while on the road.
• Prep your vehicle. Properly inflated tires can improve fuel economy by as much as 3 percent, which can translate to savings of up to 8 cents per gallon, according to the Department of Energy. With the average length of a summer road trip for Arizona travelers being more than 700 miles, this measure can help travelers save approximately $60.
• Pack meals. On a road trip, there are little restrictions on what or how much you can bring along. Packing a cooler with pre-made meals for your traveling party can help cut back on dining out costs while on the road.
No matter the mode of transportation
• Take advantage of freebies. Many hotels offer a complimentary breakfast or have a “kids eat free” with a paid adult meal offer. By taking advantage of $30-$40 in free meal costs per day, a family of four can stand to save more than $200 over the course of a week.
• Ask for discounts wherever you go. AAA members, for example, receive special member pricing at many hotels, tourist attractions and other retail partners. A complete list of savings, including discounted attraction tickets, can be found on http://www.aaaaz.com/discounts/index.htm. iPhone users can download the free AAA Discounts app, which uses a phones GPS to help travelers find discounts at more than 110,000 retail partners across the U.S. and Canada.
Linda Gorman is public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.