It's clear that most folks who are planning summer travel are looking at more modest options.
Most, I'm guessing are planning trips of a few days to a week by car. Interestingly enough Bloomberg News is just reporting that The Air Transport Association is forecasting that US summer airline travel will fall 7 percent from last year.
Anyway, I just did a spot this morning on NECN offering tips on how to save on trips this summer. You can watch but if you want the shorter summary here it is:
FIRST, do some research on prospective destinations for the availability of cheap or free things to do. Check out AAA guides and family-travel websites to get a feel for the lay of the land: Are there attractions, parks, beaches, places to hike and bike at or near where you plan to be? Also take a look at websites of newspapers in the area along with those of state travel and tourism agencies for calendar listings of events that may be happening while you're in the area.
SECOND, if you’re planning to get away for just a couple of days and you’re looking to cut lodging costs, consider using one of the “opaque’’ travel sites, like Priceline or Hotwire, which let you bid on rooms. The downside is that these sites are “opaque,’’ not transparent. You don’t bid on a room at a specific hotel. Instead you make an offer on a room at a class of hotel -- 2-, 3-, or 4 stars -- in a specific city and you don’t know exactly where you’ll be staying until your bid is accepted. But by using these sites you can score savings of up to 40%-50%, particularly at higher-end properties this year.
THIRD, if you're looking for a more extended vacation, a like a week or more, consider renting a house. This often gets you a lot more space at the same or lower per-night cost of a hotel room and will save you all kinds of money in things like food. There are a number of websites like VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner, and craigslist with vacation home listings.
AND FINALLY, AND THIS IS A GREAT TIP: If you can be flexible about where you go and are willing to wait till the last minute, say, the week before your vacation you can get great deals on unrented vacation houses -- and I expect there to be a fair number of these available this year. In years past I have saved as much as 50% on rentals this way. When you spot last-minute openings, they’ll probably be discounted already but don’t be afraid to make an offer. By taking the last-minute route you may not be able to get a place in that town on the Cape that you usually go to, but it can also be an opportunity to explore another place or perhaps even another state.
Hope this helps. If you have other ideas, please share.