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If you're planning a trip this summer, learn how to incorporate some smart spending strategies with these tips.

5 Quick & Easy Tips to Stretch Your Summer Travel Budget

TRAVEL & RECREATION — Many of the nation’s leading travel experts are predicting a surge in travel this summer. It’s no surprise that after months of restrictions, Americans are ready to set out on their next adventures. While popular destinations like Yosemite National Park are likely to be open and welcoming visitors, the uptick in traffic combined with higher prices may translate into more expensive travel.

Image of a sunrise from out a an airplane window.

Image by Eva Darron.

1. Be flexible on travel dates and destinations.

Unless your travel is tied to a specific event or occasion, try searching with flexible dates to find the best available rates. Similarly, if you know you want to get away but you’re not particular about where, try looking for destinations offering special promotions or deals for travel during certain timeframes.

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Image by Jack Ward.

2.  Consider trip interruption and cancellation policies.

Planning for the unexpected can help protect you if a trip needs to end early or be canceled altogether. Unless you have travel insurance, you’re likely to lose money on non-refundable expenses such as flights, event tickets, or tours. However, some travel companies or your credit card provider may cover reimbursement for certain prepaid expenses. Look into what options are available before you travel to avoid extra headaches when the unexpected occurs during a trip.

3.  Get rewarded no matter how you travel.

Using your credit card rewards to offset travel costs is a smart strategy, but not everyone wants or needs perks like miles or points that are exclusive to use with a single travel partner. With point-based travel reward cards, the more places you visit, the more rewards you reap along the way that can be redeemed for future experiences, statement credits, gift cards and more. That means no matter what hotel chain you stay at, car rental agency you select or airline you fly with – or as you mix and match to get the best deals – everyday adventurers have opportunities to earn rewards points for doing things they love.

Image of a Mayan pyramid.

Image by Arthur Cofresi.

4.  Come up with a realistic budget.

When you’re planning a trip, it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket expenses like airfare and hotel rooms. The reality is, when you add up all the smaller expenses, you may spend significantly more than you realize. To plan a more accurate budget, be sure you account for expenses like dining out at restaurants, paying for fuel at the pump, and tickets to attractions and events. Don’t forget fees that add up, too, like tips for housekeeping, checked bags, Wi-Fi access, parking, and souvenirs.

5.  Research and book free and discounted attractions.

Some attractions offer discounts for purchasing tickets in advance online, age-based discounts, or free admission at certain times or dates, so be sure to look into any attractions you hope to visit ahead of time. If you’re a travel rewards credit card holder, start your search by looking into your redemption options. If your card offers flexible options by booking through a specific partner site or dedicated travel platform, you might be able to redeem points or make your spending dollars go further toward earning more rewards for the cost of experiences, entertainment and other expenses while you travel.

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“Not all who wander are lost.”  — J.R.R Tolkien

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