Looking forward to taking a vacation after being cooped up inside all winter? We don’t blame you. Spring travel is calling; but even if you’ve been diligently saving your pennies, getting away can be expensive. Between booking hotels, flights, and car rentals, you might worry that seeing the world will necessitate you breaking the piggy bank. Good news: If you book your trip now, you’ll be rewarded with early bird discounts that cut hundreds off your travel bill. Keep reading to learn how.
Get bargains on hotels.
One benefit to booking your hotel room now: You can snap up early reservation deals offered by many hotels. For example, book a room in advance at Holiday Inn Resort hotels (IHG.com), and you’ll get 10 to 20 percent off; at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City (HardRockHotelAtlanticCity.com), and you’ll get 20 percent off two or more nights; at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut (Foxwoods.com), and you’ll get 15 percent off. To find more advance booking deals, visit the website of your favorite hotel or call their reservations desk.
Another way to save: Schedule your trip so you’re checking in on a Tuesday, which saves you 16 percent more than on a Friday, and checking out on a Thursday, which saves you 17 percent more than on a Sunday, per research done by KAYAK.
Spend less on flights.
According to statistics from the travel data company Airlines Reporting Corp., the cost of round-trip tickets has increased by 45 percent in the past year. Fortunately, a recent CheapAir.com analysis of airfare prices reveals that you can save 41 percent on average when booking tickets 21 days to 127 days ahead of your departure date! After that, airlines start upping the cost of seats because there are fewer available, creating higher demand. Another smart savings strategy: Fly on a Wednesday, which will save you $57 per ticket, or a Tuesday, which will save you $56 per ticket, versus Sunday, the most expensive day to travel.
Tip: Love to travel by train? You can save up to 50 percent on tickets by booking your trip 14 to 30 days in advance at Amtrak.com.
Save on car rentals.
A shortage in new vehicles due to production issues has led to fewer rental cars available nationwide — reserving one early ensures you’ll have one when you need it. An added bonus: You’ll spend less cash because early reservations allow you to have more options, such as smaller compacts or economy vehicles over larger SUVs, which cost about $20 to $40 less per day and are more fuel-efficient, saving you on gas too.
To save even more: Head to Enterprise, which a recent NerdWallet price comparison study found is priced nearly 31 percent lower than the most expensive rental company, National. No Enterprise near you? Other low-fee companies include Budget (22 percent less than National), Hertz (20.5 percent less) and Dollar (20 percent less). The study also found you’ll spend almost 21 percent less by renting from a location away from an airport.
Score deals on cruises.
Dream of putting your feet up on the deck chair of an ocean liner? Cruise liners want to ensure they fill all their cabins once they set sail, so they offer special incentives like free airfare, upgrades and onboard credit to encourage passengers to book early. For example, Adventures by Disney is reducing prices by up to $350 per person on select cruises booked by March 25, 2023, with travel start dates through April 27, 2023. And Princess recently offered early bookers up to 35 percent off cruise fares, plus $150 onboard credit per passenger (Princess.com). Bonus: Making reservations in advance means you’ll have a wider selection of cabins, so you can comparison-shop to select the one that fits your budget best.
A new poll by NerdWallet reveals that 66 percent of us plan to use a credit card to cover travel expenses. If you’re one, check the travel bonuses your card offers (such as cash back, miles and points) and compare them to those from other cards, which you can find at Bankrate.com and CreditCards.com. If you find better rewards with another card, apply for it now so you can use it in time for your trip.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.