If you haven’t already heard, Southwest Airlines is having a huge sale on late summer, early fall travel! You have to travel between August 23 and December 14 if you’re flying domestic, and the sale ends this Thursday.
Just by a quick look, I could travel to Las Vegas between August and December for as low as $49 one way – ummm, delayed honeymoon maybe? 🙂
Even though late August is technically late summer, there are still a ton of ways to still save this year on peak summer travel.
Avoid Baggage Fees
Let’s face it: almost every major airline now charges for bags. Love it or hate it (who am I kidding, I absolutely hate it!), for many carriers this is a fact of life… and we have to find a way to avoid it.
There are actually two ways to avoid baggage fees: fly Southwest, which allows you two check 2 bags for free. Pretty handy they’re also having their flight sale now, too, huh? (I swear this isn’t a promotional post for Southwest!)
The other way is to pack everything you need for your vacation in 2 carry-on bags. First, look up the dimensions of permitted carry-on bags at some of these airlines:
Or on your airline of choice. Basically, you want to make sure your bag is approved as a carry-on by your airline, i.e. that it fits either under or above your seat. Once you’ve found an appropriate bag, pack wisely to ensure almost everything fits into your carry-on.
You are also allowed one “personal item” carry-on, like a purse or laptop bag. If I’m not carrying my laptop, I’ve been known to put clothes or toiletries into this bag to free up extra room in a my (slightly bigger) carry-on.
Yes, this means you won’t be able to bring your full-sized shampoo or extra pairs of shoes. This is why you might want to invest in stylish yet comfortable shoes (I really like my Sketchers’ knock-off Toms, known as “Bobs”) that can do double duty walking around and looking nice for a night out. However, it’s worth it to not have to pay $35 or more just to check a bag!
Eat Like a Local
If traveling internationally, it’s easier to eat like a local and avoid chain restaurants. Basically, just avoid anything you’ve ever seen in the US (or where ever you’re from). However, what if you’re traveling domestically?
One of the best recommendations I can give as an extensive domestic traveler is: be adventurous. The last time I visited Denver, a local friend recommended I try this amazing, cheap sushi place. When I drove around for the second time, trying to find the hole-in-the-wall joint, I initially didn’t want to pull over. The place looked empty and run down… and closed.
However, I said “yolo” and walked in to discover a completely hidden gem in downtown Denver. It was delicious sushi, affordable and fresh (as fresh as it could be in Denver, at least), and yeah, it looked dilapidated from the outside, but it was fine on the inside.
If you don’t have local friends to ask for recommendations, go on Yelp. Yelp can get a bad reputation for being full of complainers, but on Yelp message boards, you can find people who genuinely want to help. Just log on, click on “Talk” (Yelp message boards) and choose a relevant board (Food). Let people know when you’ll be visiting and the type of food you want to try (if you have a preference), then wait for people to respond.
In addition, you can also view what people are talking about to discover places you wouldn’t have thought of – all free knowledge, directly from locals.
Do Some Research Ahead of Time
Honestly, I’m not going to tell you to travel to unpopular summer destinations (Phoenix, where it was 115 this past weekend, anyone?), and I’m not going to tell you to travel during the low season.
It’s awesome if you can do that. But sometimes you have kids or family or responsibilities, and you have to go to Disneyland during the summer. Or you have to go San Diego for a family reunion and the dates are non-negotiable. It’s going to be expensive and you have to know that.
However, do your research ahead of time. Can you get tickets to Disneyland or some show you want to see cheaper? Can you buy them with a veteran or AAA discount card? How about food – are there cheaper places to eat outside of the area? Can you split an Airbnb rental with family?
Try to do this research at least 2 months ahead of time to give yourself enough time to lock in cheaper rates. Trust me: you typically won’t do well booking a hotel one week before your vacation. While you might still pay a lot, at least you’ll be able to prepare and save for the expense.
As of right now, I’m trying to plan an affordable yet super fun Las Vegas adventure, since for me and my husband, round trip for 2 people would only cost $200. We’ll see if everything can work out in terms of hotels, but it’s a good start!
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What are your vacation plans this year?