Last-Minute Summer Savings

Summer travel can be expensive but there are still some ways you can save.

By Lisa Cheng

Think it’s too late for a weekend getaway? Here are a few tips on how to stretch your budget as the summer comes to a close.

Go off the beaten path (but not too far).

Avoiding crowds is always a good rule of thumb, but head to the out-of-the-way no-man’s land, and transportation gets pricey and inconvenient. Consider nearby alternatives to popular summer destinations. If you want to go to Greece, try South Evia or Poros instead of Mykonos or Santorini, says Elena Papanicolao, a bespoke travel professional. The two islands offer pristine beaches, ancient ruins and authentic tavernas—and are accessible from Athens by a bridge connected to the continent or by ferry.

Some hidden gems may be right under your nose: New Hampshire has eighteen miles of Atlantic beaches, picturesque mountain ranges and charming towns with restaurants, shops and museums that can cost less than its more popular neighbors Vermont and Maine—not to mention tax-free shopping.

Make the best of your off-season destination.

Low- and shoulder season destinations offer great value. These places are off peak for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that your vacation is a bust. Case in point: Arizona’s summer temperatures can soar, but mountain towns can be 20-30 degrees cooler than spots in the desert. Outside of Phoenix, Flagstaff sits at 7,000 feet above sea level: You can hike and bike through Ponderosa pine forests, sample craft beer and check out art galleries. In Sedona, the Native American-inspired spa treatments at local spas are a fraction of the peak season prices.

Take activities into account.

Extras add up. Want a jaunt in wine country? Outside of the U.S., most wineries don’t have tasting fees. Spa-goers can opt for countries where baths and healing rituals are a common practice—not a luxury—priced within reach for locals (e.g. Turkey’s hammams or Japan’s onsen). For hardcore surfers, bargain hunters can catch waves, (and reasonably-priced surf lessons) in Nicaragua, or Les Landes in southwestern France, where you can slide down Europe’s tallest sand dune, meander through pine forests, and feast on duck confit.

Save on Big Ticket Items.

A growing number of airfare apps are changing the booking landscape. It used to be that purchasing a flight was a guessing game but flight predictors such as Hopper aggregate info from current fare searches and historical data to produce generally on-point reports with six-month rate calendars, prices on alternate arrival and departure airports, and comparisons of direct and non-direct flights. Flyr, a similar app, displays a bar graph of fares by the day and has a “Farekeep” option that locks in rates for seven days while the app scans for better deals on similar flights.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: August 2015