How to save money on summer vacations, according to a travel expert who has been to 90 countries

How to save money on summer vacations, according to a travel expert who has been to 90 countries
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A plane parked on a tarmac as the sun rises over the NYC skyline behind it
Travel host Samantha Brown shared her top tips for saving money on summer travel.

  • Travel host Samantha Brown says people feel priced out of travel due to rising costs.
  • Increasing airfare prices and luxury travel trends make dream trips seem unattainable.
  • Brown recommends finding alternative destinations and adopting a new travel perspective.

People feel priced out of travel.

That’s according to Samantha Brown, an Emmy-award-winning travel host who has spent the past 20 years bringing destinations to life on TV programs from PBS to the Travel Channel.

With increasing airfare prices and the rise of luxury travel, it’s no wonder why more and more people feel like their dream trips are out of reach.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

According to Brown, you can have an amazing vacation without overspending. It all comes down to finding worthy alternatives to expensive destinations, hotels, and activities — and shifting your perspective.

Don’t worry about where other people are going.
A woman takes a selfie on a yacht.
A woman takes a selfie on a yacht.

“I think the biggest mistake people make in travel is thinking that the only way to have amazing experiences is to go to all of these top destinations that they see on Instagram,” Brown said. “But if you watch social media, everyone’s going on these super glossy and expensive trips.”

Instead of trying to make a faraway destination work on a budget just to keep up with influencers and travel trends, plan your trip based on what you can reasonably afford, even if the destination isn’t far from home.

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“You don’t have to go to big theme parks or shell out hundreds of dollars on hotels,” she said. “When I grew up, we piled up in a station wagon, went on long trips, and packed a cooler with bologna sandwiches. Our dog Gidget came with us, and we stayed in little motor lodges along the way. And I still love that.”

Consider cheaper alternatives to the hot spots on your bucket list.
Left: historic buildings in Montreal. Right: Parisian historic residential buildings from 19th century
Montreal and Paris are similar destinations.

Maybe a trip to Europe isn’t in your budget this year — especially if you were hoping to see Paris, the host city of the 2024 Summer Olympics. But you don’t have to cross the Atlantic for a European experience. Instead, consider the French-Canadian city of Montreal, which looks and feels like Paris, according to Brown.

“Montreal is one of the best cities in the world,” she said. “The 400-year-old city feels like Europe for half the cost.”

Embrace public spaces and events.
Musicians play on a lush street corner with pedestrians sitting and walking by.
A street scene in Berlin.

If you want a full day of activities without overspending, Brown suggests visiting a city and exploring its public spaces and community happenings.

“Cities have phenomenal free events all summer long, like concerts or theater. Many have amazing splash pads for kids,” she said. “I love places we are all allowed to inhabit without money. And we all get to be there together.”

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Brown has especially enjoyed walking around with her kids in cities like New York and Amsterdam.

“We just get our backpacks and pack and sandwiches, and we go on what I call urban hikes. We just go and see what we find,” she said.

Skip the resorts and cool off in public pools.
Samantha Brown in Széchenyi Baths
Brown cools off in a pool in Europe.

To save on lodging and activities — especially when traveling with kids — Brown suggests staying away from resorts and cooling off in public pools. She said they’re particularly nice in cities outside the US.

“And the ones in Europe are phenomenal,” she added.

Some of the best public pools around the world are in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, and the US cities of Austin and Los Angeles, the BBC reported in 2022.

To find public pools in the area, Brown said she uses Google Maps.

“I look for little blue squares and rectangles. Those are public pools,” she told BI. “It’s usually free for kids and sometimes $5 for adults, and you get this incredible pool.”

She especially appreciates that spending time at public pools allows her children to meet kids from other countries.

“I don’t like to stay in high-end resorts that don’t give them that exposure to everyone,” she added.

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Book the flights that nobody wants.
Flight booking webpage with a calendar and rates
Google Flight screenshots show cheap flights between NYC and Miami on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Brown says that if you want to save as much money as possible on airfare, you have to choose the least desirable flights.

Brown told BI that she typically books Monday and Tuesday flights and saves between 20% and 30% on tickets.

“That is especially true for international flights,” she added.

For domestic travelers, Brown said the earliest flight of the day also tends to be cheaper and is less likely to be delayed.

“That’s the one that no one wants to get up for, and, boy, is that the one to get on,” she said. “That plane is the plane that leaves on time.”

According to Expedia’s 2023 Air Travel Hacks report, flights that depart after 3 p.m. have a 50% higher chance of delay.

“If you’ve spent so much money on this trip, and if that plane doesn’t leave, that could mess you up for the next three or four days,” Brown said. “So, get up at 4 a.m. It is so hard, but it’s absolutely worth it.

For more ways to save money on summer travels, check out Brown’s Summer Travel Trends report in partnership with Klarna.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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