With summer coming, plenty of people are gearing up to travel. I have a few trips planned myself, and as bad as TSA security has been recently (but not always), I’m excited to get out there and see—and share—even more of our amazing world.
But travel isn’t always in the budget. I know it. A recent survey conducted by PayPal found that 45% of respondents cited cost as the biggest barrier to planning their next trip. The same study found that the average travel budget is $2,427, which can be a lot of money to commit every few months, every year or whatever your ideal travel schedule calls for.
Fortunately, there are many ways to ease the financial strain of travel. It’s taken me years to learn how to travel better (I’ve compiled tips in this post, for example), and I’m still learning. But here are six tips to consider if you’re looking to travel this summer. Have your own money-saving travel tip? Leave it in the comments below!
1. Get a travel credit card
This is always near the top of the list when it comes to being smart about money and travel. Get a good travel credit card and you can earn points and miles to redeem for flights, accommodations and more. Many cards have big sign-up bonuses that sweeten the deal. But the potential value doesn’t end there. More and more cards are dropping foreign transaction fees, which means less money spent overseas (those fees add up). If you can pay off your credit cards bills on time, check out this page for a list of great cards for travelers.
2. Use PayPal Credit to spread major costs over time
Don’t have the money to travel now, but know you’ll have it later? PayPal Credit offers flexible payment schedules in two ways: 1) You can use it sort of like a credit card, paying via PayPal Credit and then paying your bill at the end of each month. 2) You can use PayPal Credit to finance big-ticket items like plane tickets. There are “special financing offers” like six months to pay on purchases of $99 or more. Again, if you have the credit and can pay your bills on time, PayPal Credit is at the very least a chance for everyone to be more financially flexible.
3. Save on gas with GasBuddy and Gas Guru
Gas is already cheap right now, which is great news for drivers, especially those looking to do a road trip this summer. Still, some stations offer bigger savings than others, and it helps to know how to find them. GasBuddy helps you locate the cheapest gas pumps anywhere in the country. Gas Guru does the same.
4. Find the off-weeks at your desired destination
No matter where you want to go this summer (or beyond), you’re probably not the only one interested in heading to that destination. But in general, prices tend to be highest when demand is highest, so try to plan your trips during the destination’s down times, when prices are lower. Avoid holidays, for example, and utilize the price graphs that many of the major flight search tools offer (like Google Flights and Momondo) to find the dates that flights are cheapest. And make sure to check out this report we recently featured on the cheapest weeks to visit the top ten travel destinations of the summer.
5. Avoid hassle with apps like Venmo, Reserve and PayPal
It’s never been easier to coordinate group payments and repay monies owed. Venmo lets you link a bank account to its app so that you can digitally repay your friends and family with a few taps. Quickly and easily, you can pay your brother back for your half of the rental fee on the cabin or pay a friend for your portion of a restaurant bill. Similarly, with PayPal‘s app, you can send anyone around the world money, from your phone, using just an email or a phone number. And these aren’t the only tools for managing money on the go. Reserve, for example, helps you find a good restaurant, make a reservation, and even pay and split your bill though an app. Splitwise is a free tool for friends to track bills and other shared expenses while traveling, so that everyone gets paid back.
6. Think beyond the hotel
Hotels suddenly have more competition for your travel money, and that’s good for you. Better yet, when you’re looking for best prices, look beyond the hotel and consider Airbnb, Couchsurfing (free), Overnight, and more. If it is a hotel you want, don’t forget to consider resources beyond the classic hotel search tools. HotelTonight helps you find last-minute rooms at discount. Stayful helps you negotiate prices at boutique hotels. Cancelon lets you buy already-booked reservations from people who can’t use them, for less.
BONUS: 7. Win a $10,000 getaway
It’ll take some luck, but winning a $10,000 getaway would make things pretty easy, right? Right now, there’s a chance. Enter here to win a $10,000 giveaway and part of a $20,000 haul from PayPal.
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