Editor’s Note: As the pandemic evolves, travel rules can shift at a moment's notice. Be sure to read the health and safety protocols and requirements for visitors to any destination, as well as those of airlines, car rentals and hotels before you book, and again before you travel.
Still trying to decide how to spend your summer vacation? Or maybe you found some extra time to travel and you want make the most of it? While you may not have a lot of lead time left for a big summer trip, there are still lots of ways to save even if you spontaneously pack up and head out tomorrow!
No matter where you are in your travel planning, use these tips to get the most out of your vacation time and budget.
Stay close to home
- Hit the road. Search online for a nearby city or town to learn what they have to offer, and then head out on a road trip! To keep costs down, dine on a dime with restaurant.com certificates and even get discounted tickets to local attractions, shows and sporting events from the NEA Discount Marketplace. With the NEA Travel Program, you can save up to 60% on hotels and resort stays, as well car rentals. And before you go, read these tips for putting together the right road-trip survival kit.
- Find all the freebies. Find free fun at nearby museums, which often have free days or times. Check out local parks for a jaunt through nature, find free summer concerts and browse local library art exhibits. Find even more inspirational ideas with these 100 free attractions in top U.S. cities.
- Go camping! While it’s not an extravagant vacation to an exotic beach, roughing it outdoors can bring its own kind of tranquility. Turn off your cellphone and listen to nature! Not sure where to go? Read about these 3 scenic spots for a summer camping trip.
- Visit a theme park. Read up on ways you can make the most out of every dollar while you’re at your favorite amusement park. Try one of these seven theme parks that won’t blow your budget.
Schedule a mini vacay
- Plan a weekend getaway. More travelers are opting for short trips for good reason. You can have a blast in a short period of time and save some of your vacation money for a later trip. Use your member benefits and get great deals on airfare, hotels and more through the NEA Travel Program.
- Try a short cruise. Cruises don’t have to break the bank. Some are as short as a few days. Learn the pros and cons of short cruises, then search through your newest benefit: NEA Travel. You’ll get special member pricing—as low as $50 per night—plus discounts on food and beverage packages.
- Book a last-minute resort trip. If setting sail doesn’t float your boat, try a resort stay. Visit resorts within a day’s drive to keep the cost of travel to a minimum. If you go through NEA Travel, you can try Myrtle Beach for a weekend, stay at a Lake Tahoe resort, explore New Orleans and much more, all at discounted rates. You can also save money by visiting a ski resort in the summer off season. There’s still a lot to do, and you won’t pay the high ski-package price.
Go the distance and find the best deals for any trip
- Make the most of your airline booking. Learn how to master the art of earning frequent flyer miles, and then make sure you book the best day to fly. It’s also important to avoid the fee traps you’ll encounter at the airport.
- Get the best deal on a cruise. There are lots of options for cruising. Figure out the best type of cruise for you and read up on ways to make that cruise affordable. Read these insider tips and you’ll soon be cruising like a pro!
- Go all inclusive. Places such as Great Wolf Lodge, among others, make family-trip planning a snap. But don’t get caught by unexpected fees: Here’s what you need to know to make the most out of an all-inclusive trip.
- Use a travel agent. They have the connections and the know-how to get you a great deal, and sometimes extra freebies. Did you know that using a travel agent doesn’t have to cost a dime?
- Use your educator creds. In addition to your NEA travel benefits, check out these 8 little-known vacation deals for teachers. And from art museums to the Kennedy Space Center, you can get educator discounts on attractions all over the country.
- Score the best hotel rates. Use insider secrets to get the best deal. Then learn how to avoid these annoying hotel fees.