As summer fades into fall, it’s not too late to plan a last-minute Labor Day getaway before you settle into school and work routines.
If you’re flexible on the length of your trip or even your destination, you can find deals on flights and accommodations. And if you’d rather hit the road, gas prices will be in your favor.
With these money-saving tips, you can bid summer an affordable farewell with a little adventure.
How to get there
Every year, airfares drop around the end of summer. You can reduce your ticket price significantly if you add a layover to your itinerary. Don’t forget to carry a book or laptop to keep you busy at the airport.
If you’d rather skip the hassle of security checks and luggage limits, consider the traditional American road trip. With Labor Day gas prices expected to hit a four-year low and no rise in rental car expenses, you could save money, too. AAA expects nearly 29.7 million people to be on the road between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1.
Consider your travel companions and match your travel plans to your needs and budget. If you’re going with a large family or group of friends, driving may offer the best deal per person. The price of plane tickets may be worth it if you’re traveling alone or with one other person.
Try to make the most of your chosen mode of transportation. If you’re flying, check out package deals to save you money on accommodations as well. If you’re driving, take advantage of scenic routes and out-of-the-way attractions best reached by car, such as national parks.
When to travel
Labor Day weekend is a popular time to travel, but if you are not tied to a tight schedule, some flexibility in your plans will save you money. If you’re flying, consider leaving on Saturday and returning on Wednesday. Use travel sites that let you compare airfares across different days, like hopper.com and Kayak.com‘s “flex” search. For road trips, leaving ahead of the crowd or right after it can save you the headache of heavy traffic, and the cost of accommodations may be slightly lower for if you avoid peak travel days.
Where to go
Flexibility when it comes to destinations can help you score a deal as well. Certain cities tend to be cheaper around Labor Day, so keeping your options open is a great way to save. Hotel prices in Orlando and Toronto are expected to be particularly favorable right now, and ski resort towns like Vail, Colorado, offer great bargains in the off-season.
If you’re flying, sites like skiplagged.com and fly.com can show you the least expensive destinations from your local airport, and adding nearby airports to your options may snag you an even better deal. Considering destinations within a 500-mile radius may also provide you with the least expensive options.
When it comes to accommodation, think outside the hotel box. If you consider traveling an opportunity to meet new people and wander off the tourist track, try booking free accommodations on couchsurfing.com — save money and see a new side of a city. For larger groups, consider booking a place to stay through Airbnb.com. The lodging service lets you rent out spaces that meet your group’s needs and size. If you prefer to stick with traditional accommodation, the mobile app Hotel Tonight is a great way to find last-minute hotel deals.
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Travel photo via Shutterstock.