(Family Features) Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with the entire family, there are ways to get where you’re going and enjoy your time there without spending your life savings. One of the easiest ways to save on summer travel is to take advantage of free websites and mobile apps that do the deal finding for you.
- Get fare alerts. Take the worry out of finding the best price by signing up for fare alerts to get email notifications when the cost of your flight itinerary changes. Travel websites like Hipmunk offer the service for free.
- Pull the trigger. If you see a great fare, book it. All airlines selling airfare in the U.S. allow you to cancel within 24 hours without any penalties as long as you purchased a ticket at least seven days before the flight. Many airlines also let you hold a fare for a short time for a small fee.
- Try metasearch sites. Search for airfare on websites like Hipmunk, BookingBuddy, and SmarterTravel.com, which compare top travel sites to show the best flight or hotel at the cheapest price.
Finding the Perfect Place to Stay
- Book hotels last-minute. Hotels often offer special mobile-only rates for last-minute bookers. For example, Hipmunk’s Tonight Deals saves app users up to 60 percent on hotel rates.
- Try a vacation rental. Rates can be cheaper than hotels and cooking your own meals saves on eating out. Airbnb and HomeAway are popular vacation rental websites and you can see their listings alongside traditional hotels when you search through Hipmunk.
- Look at reviews. Sentiment-based reviews like Hipmunk’s make it faster and easier to see a hotel's strengths and weaknesses without having to read pages of individual reviews. At a glance you’re able to see whether past hotel guests were happy with the price of breakfast or thought the hotel was a value.
Activities and Dining
- Pre-purchase activities. Browse activities or dining deals on sites like Groupon or LivingSocial and pre-purchase the ones you like at a significant discount. Make reservations well in advance for the dates you’ll be in town.
- Find last-minute dining deals. Use the Yelp app to identify local restaurants offering a deal. Just search nearby restaurants and filter by “offering a deal” to taste local flavors at a discount.
- Walk it off. Use a site like Walk Score to identify and stay in areas that are walkable to avoid cab fares and public transportation costs.
- Try short-term car rental. If you’ll need a car on and off, try services like Zipcar or Getaround. You can borrow a car for as little as an hour so you don’t pay for it when you’re not using it.
- Rideshare. Uber or Lyft rates are often cheaper than cab fares and the apps are free. In addition, you pay through the apps so you never have to pull out your wallet in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
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