It’s not even summer yet, but just a glimmer of warm weather has got us scouring the internet for cheap plane tickets and hotel deals for all those long weekends on the horizon. The only problem? The cost. Here, how to scrimp and save and still maximize your time away.
Reserve Car Rentals *Way* in Advance
Labor Day might feel like eons away, but by guesstimating your car rental needs ahead of time—as in, several months in advance—you can save upwards of 25 percent and still cancel at the last minute.
Open Up a Credit Card With Travel Benefits
Three words: Chase Sapphire Preferred. This credit card has particularly great travel rewards. Spend $4,000 in the first three months and you’ll automatically get 60,000 points—a total of $750 you can put toward things like flights and hotels. For a long weekend? That could be enough to cover your entire stay.
Negotiate That Airbnb
Yes, it’s possible. (In fact, this editor just shaved $50 a night off an upcoming San Francisco rental simply by emailing before booking and making a direct ask.) How you ask matters, but so does timing. It can work in your favor to either send a note way in advance before a ton of booking requests start rolling in or wait until the last minute when the long weekend is near and they’ve still got a vacancy.
Phone Hotels the Week Of To Ask About Cancellations
That hotel that was totally booked for Memorial Day when you called in January? If you still haven’t locked down plans, it never hurts to give them a ring a couple days before you leave to see if they’ve had any last-minute rooms open up. A lot of places will offer hefty down-to-the-wire discounts—sometimes as much as 50 percent off—if someone bailed on a reservation, leaving them with a room to fill.
Keep an Open Mind About Last-Minute Travel Deals
Sites like Hotel Tonight, Google Flights, even TheFlightDeal.com all offer a way to capitalize on savings when it comes to 11th hour travel plans. The key? Stay flexible on destination and departure times. For example, you may have had your sights set on a Fourth of July on Nantucket, but if there’s a package offer to head to Portland, Maine, instead, it might be worth pivoting. As for travel dates, you can often nab a better hotel rate if you book Saturday through Tuesday versus Friday through Monday. (Bonus: You’ll miss the influx of long weekend traffic.)