Summer is a great time to get out of town and see somewhere new as you embark on a well-deserved break! Whether you’re looking for an action-packed trip with lots of sightseeing or just want to relax on the beach for a while, these tips will help you make the most of your trip.
- Put some thought into choosing your destination. First, consider locations where you know someone who lives nearby. No, not your aunt’s cousin’s sister’s best friend… someone who you’re actually friends with. They’ll be able to give great recommendations on sights to see and things to do, and if you get lucky you may even get a free place to stay! If you’re not interested in heading down the beaten path, consider what you’re looking for in a great vacation: Do you want to get out of your comfort zone and try scuba or skydiving? Do you want to lounge by the pool? Honestly assessing what you want to get out of the trip will help you pick the perfect spot.
- Make a budget. Take a realistic look at your bank account. Before you book tickets or rent an Airbnb, determine what you’re actually able to spend. If you know that taking an extended trip will dig into your rent money, take a weekend road trip instead. Budget how much you’re willing and able to spend in each category (food, travel, accommodations, sights, etc.), and come up with a total for the entire trip. Factor in a little extra spending money since you’re on vacation. Once you start making reservations, stick to your budget. This way, there are no unpleasant surprises!
- Travel outside of peak season. Rates for hotels and airfare typically fluctuate throughout the year depending on the most popular times to travel to a particular location. Although summer is peak season for most places, look up rates at the beginning and end of summer to see if you can take advantage of the changing seasons. Furthermore, primary and secondary schools are out from early June through early- to mid-August, so families travel in force during that time. Use this knowledge to schedule a trip while school is in session—you may be able to snag a discount! Similarly, if you can be flexible about your travel date, rates might be cheaper on a Tuesday than on a Friday.
- Look for discounts. Check whether the sights you’re planning to see or the restaurants you’ll be frequenting offer student discounts. Many museums, aquariums, and other vacation hotspots give discounted tickets to students, but you’ll need to show your student ID to get the lower rate, so make sure to bring it with you! StudentUniverse, a travel site that caters specifically to students, offers cheap hotel, flight, and tour deals for travelers between 18 and 25 years old. Although not specifically for students, sites like Groupon may also offer discounts for various attractions.
- Travel with a group. Splitting costs with others is a great way to save money while traveling, and you get to bond with a friend or two while you’re out and about. Whether you split the cost of a hotel room down the middle or rent a house with several others, you’ll save money since you won’t be footing the bill for a place of your own. Make sure, though, that you travel with people who want to visit the same attractions as you. Nothing spells vacation nightmare like a group of people who want to do none of the same things.
- Plan ahead. Use online review sites like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor to scope out the attractions you’re interested in seeing and the restaurants you’re interested in visiting before you embark on your vacation. Use what you learn to create your itinerary ahead of time to ensure that you do everything you want while you’re there! You’re also going to want to book your accommodations well ahead of time; you don’t want to show up to a new town and realize you have no place to stay. And, if you’re flying, check out the Hopper app. It lets you input locations and dates and tells you when to buy tickets so you get the cheapest price.
- Do what the locals do. Although sightseeing and tourist attractions can be fun and interesting, to get the real feel for a place, you should be sure to do some things that locals do. Instead of eating at a national chain restaurant, try a local spot. If you’re not comfortable asking someone for a recommendation, a quick internet search should bring up plenty of tasty options near you! Same goes for activities: Try to find things to do that are unique to where you are. If you’re near water, check out boating, kayaking, or rafting. Near the beach? Visit a local nature preserve, inlet, or pier for a unique experience!
- Have snacks handy. Buying water and snacks while you’re exploring a new town can be expensive and add up quickly. Carry a backpack or purse when you’re away from your hotel or rental, and stock it with snacks and a refillable water bottle. More money for souvenirs and you’ll skip feeling hangry. It’s a good deal!
- Drive smart. If you’re driving, wake up early or drive at night to avoid the worst traffic, but don’t drive when you’re tired. Plan your route so that you can avoid driving through large cities during morning or evening rush hours.