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The Simple Dollar

Start planning summer vacation now

Planning summer vacations far in advance can be a big money saver.

By Intern / January 27, 2011

Beach-goers relax on the sand on Cape Cod. Planning summer vacation ahead of time can mean saving a lot of money, writes guest blogger Trent Hamm.

Melanie Stetson Freeman / Staff / File

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This seems rather strange, perhaps, but Sarah and I have our summer plans more or less penciled in through 2015.

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That’s right, 2015

This summer, we’re going to Seattle. The following summer is a trip to New Orleans with my family. The summer after that will feature a trip to Boston, with the summer after that featuring some extensive national park camping. The summer after that? Disneyworld.

We’ve even started talking about subsequent vacations, including trips to Norway, Japan, and France by the end of the decade (we want our children to be older before traveling internationally).

Why plan ahead so much, you ask?

It’s simple. Planning ahead on your summer vacations is an enormous money saver. Sure, maybe we’re going over the top a little bit with the advance planning, but having a firm grip on where you’re going at least a year in advance can save a huge amount of money.

Here are some of the reasons such advance planning really helps.

The day of the week you travel on really matters. If you watch airline ticket prices, you’ll quickly see that not all days are created equal. Tickets for flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays are much cheaper than tickets for Mondays or Fridays.

This, of course, means that planning the days you travel in advance can save you a lot of money, and the further in advance that you plan it, the easier it becomes to get the needed vacation time at work and so on.

You have more time to shop around for better rates on plane tickets, lodging, meals, and any other events. I’m not going to get into the mountain of travel sites out there, but suffice it to say that shopping around for tickets can save you quite a lot of money. The further in advance you’ve planned for a vacation, the more time you have to shop for such things.

The more time in advance you have, the more you can focus on banking frequent flyer miles. There are lots of ordinary things you can do that will help you to bank frequent flyer miles, and the more miles you have banked, the fewer tickets you’re going to be buying. Considering that our family’s travel in the air requires five tickets, that’s a fair chunk of change. Thus, for us, sites like TravelHacking actually pay off.

You have plenty of time to make (or re-establish) connections in the city you’re traveling to. Having people in the area means an inside track on things to do, places to see, bargains, lodging, food, and countless other expenses for travel. If you know long in advance that you’re coming to the area, start making contacts and re-establishing old ones. For me, this is easy – I know readers of The Simple Dollar in most of these areas, so I just send them an email. For you, look for any groups that you might be involved in. Put out a notice on Facebook. You might be surprised who pops up.