Savvy ways to save on summer travel

Created date

April 18th, 2013
Couple at the beach

Summer travel season is about to kick into high gear. Get the most bang for your vacation buck with these savvy strategies and insider tips. If you re retired, you have one thing that most travelers don t: time. Having flexibility is the greatest thing you can do to find cheap travel deals, Matt Kepnes, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, says. The difference of one day can mean the difference of hundreds of dollars. Kepnes advises retired travelers to leverage their free time by taking advantage of last-minute deals. He says you ll often find deep discounts on sites like,, and if you re willing to travel at a moment s notice. Wayne Dunlap, who writes, a popular baby boomer travel blog, offers another strategy to use time wisely: wait. He says you can save big if you wait for Internet bounce back offers. Here s how it works: You search for flights and hotels in Amsterdam, for example, on sites like and Enter your travel dates and email, but do not finalize your bookings. Within a few days, those sites may send you emails for the same trip you were researching. Dunlap also recommends repositioning cruises. He says retirees can get to Europe on repositioning cruises for less than the cost of airfare. Plus, you ll see more of the world because ships make several port-of-call stops along the way.

Really get to know the locals

If only you had a friend in Tuscany who would let you stay at her house this summer. Well, now you do sort of. So-called home-swapping services connect budget-conscious travelers with one another. is one such service that has almost 44,000 members in 150 countries. If you ve got a condo in San Francisco, for instance, you might hook up with a couple who has a flat in London, and literally switch homes for a period of time. lets you travel anywhere in the world for just the price of getting there, spokeswoman Keghan Hurst says. The company has given travelers an alternative to high-priced hotels, typical tourist vacations, and a way to live and eat like a local. Official city tours are often expensive and don t get you close to the authentic culture. Instead, get to know locals and save money by having natives show you around. is one service that pairs tourists with local guides. For example, you can ask a local art student in Paris to be your tour guide, spokesman Ben Dotten says. Since the student knows the real local tastes and life, your stay is definitely going to be unique, fun, and cheap.

Penny wise

Don t let unexpected costs blow your vacation budget. If you re going abroad, Kepnes recommends a Charles Schwab checking account or Capital One credit card to avoid getting dinged with foreign transaction fees and ATM charges. He also advises savvy travelers to open an airline credit card. Often, cardholders are exempt from paying baggage fees and get perks like access to airport lounges, he says. And, many cards now come with hefty sign-up bonuses like 50,000 airline miles, which could buy a round-trip ticket to Europe. These airline points are like free money, Kepnes says.