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Planning a Summer Vacation? Experts Share 3 Ways To Save Money While Traveling

Make new memories without breaking the bank.

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With summer fast approaching, you may already have a vacation in mind — and you’re not alone. A travel website called The Vacationer recently surveyed 1,017 American adults, and found that 85 percent said they plan on traveling this summer. This not only means bracing for crowded airports and roads, but it also entails planning effectively to avoid costly travel expenses. Whether you’re looking to save on flights or a hotel stay, traveling to a new destination doesn’t have to involve breaking the bank. Keep reading for tips from expert on how to save money while traveling in the coming weeks and months.

To Save On Excursions: Get This Pass

National parks drew 312 million visitors last year — and for good reason. From geysers to mountains, they’re teeming with wonders, yet are affordable. To get the most out of your trip, consider the Federal Interagency (“America the Beautiful”) pass at Store.usgs.gov, which grants access to all federal sites, including those run by the National Park Service and the US Forest Service, says Michelle Markel, founder of Support Public Lands. “An annual pass is $80, and if you visit more than one of the larger parks, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, it pays for itself,” she explains. If you’re 62 or older, consider the $20 annual senior pass, which grants admission to 2,000 recreational sites.

To Cut Hotel Costs: Try House-Sitting

The only thing better than saving on accommodations? Getting paid to stay. Sites like TrustedHousesitters.com, Nomador.com and Indeed.com post jobs to watch homes for people while they’re vacationing. “I’ve been able to visit New Zealand, Australia, Italy, France and more this way, and the average pay is more than $20 an hour,” travel expert Brittnay Sharman says. Prefer a hotel? Hotel chains and booking sites occasionally run surprise sales offering 30 to 75 percent off room rates in an effort to book rooms sitting vacant. Simply sign up for email alerts at sites like Expedia, TripAdvisor, or Booking.com, or join the loyalty program at your favorite hotel chain. Sales typically last 48 hours, so if you get a message about one, jump on it!

To Snag Deals on Flights: Time It Right

You already know to book your flight six to eight weeks ahead to save, but considering when your flight leaves can lead to steeper discounts. “Avoid weekend flights, which cost hundreds more than the same flight on Monday through Thursday,” Kevin Mercier of travel blog KevMRC.com, says. “And choose an early flight — getting the first one of the day has saved me $200 on average.” Plus, Kayak.com found that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly domestically with 13 percent lower fares. Also smart? Airline sites track online activity, and if they see you’re planning a trip on specific days, they’ll raise prices for those days. The fix: Select a “private” or “incognito” window on your browser’s menu.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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