Traveling this summer? Experts offer some dos and don'ts.

There are a lot of decisions to make when traveling and making the right ones will save money - UnSplash +

Bring your own alcohol and save that 400% markup

We’re officially in the summer travel season. People are cashing in miles and points, passports are being double-checked and travel insurance is being considered. But even if you snag a great fare you shouldn't stop there, you should consider all the other costs you may face.

ConsumerAffairs thought it might be interesting to poll travel experts and ask them what “do this, not that” moves they might make to save money. Here’s what we found:

Look for 'duplicate' destinations and avoid the crowds and high prices

Jen Ruiz, a travel expert, author, and former attorney who quit her job to travel the world full-time knows the “do this/not that” game probably better than anyone. She says that instead of going to popular, crowded, expensive hotspots like Italy or France in summer, pick alternatives. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala feels like you’re at Lake Como but at a fraction of the price.

“Can’t make it to Provence? Upstate N.Y. has a wine and cheese trail and lavender fields reminiscent of the region,” Ruiz told ConsumerAffairs.

When packing, colors and fabrics are key

If you go with all black or black and gray, you can mix and match to your delight. If your clothes are the kind you can roll up and wash anddry easily, you can probably wear items more than once, too. Plus, you can go with a carry-on that can save you baggage fees and time at the airport.

Fly on a mainstream airline: cheaper isn't always better

Budget airline fares are certainly attractive, but there are often hidden fees and higher ancillary fees and, before you know it, that cheap seat isn't so cheap. 

Jeremy Murchland, president at Seven Corners, Inc. takes it a step further: “It’s also a good idea to factor in the value of the airline’s reliability. Budget airlines often have more delays and cancellations. And during a summer like 2024 when experts are predicting more crowds than ever before, the chances of delays and cancellations increase exponentially,” he said.

“Having to change your travel plans can sometimes lead you to spending more than you budgeted, but it can also cause great amounts of stress. Especially if the prices between airlines are similar, spend a bit more for the airline with a more dependable track record.”

Do this: Deal sites | Not that: the typical online travel aggregators

“Wholesale clubs have deals on the travel section of their websites,” Ruiz notes, and gives this example; you can buy a $500 Southwest Air gift card through Costco for $450. She also favors sites like TravelZoo which aggregate deal packages.

“I just saw a deal for a little over $2,000, all-inclusive trip to the Maldives with flights included on Emirates. There are also flight alert programs like Going and Thrifty Traveler that send deals to your inbox. The one that got her attention recently was a $100-$200 roundtrip flight to Ireland. 

Check Google Maps for Uber/Lyft rates 

Uber and Lyft’s prices are based on demand and their systems know when flights are expected to land, so it costs more for the people who want to catch a ride first. Check Google Maps for the point-to-point mileage and click on the “rideshare” icon. That will bring up a list of all the ride options available and their prices.

Have a cocktail before you get to the restaurant

Alcohol is one of the most marked-up items at restaurants and, of course, bars – around 400 to 500%. Why not buy a bottle when you arrive or take some miniatures with you in your suitcase instead?

“Alcoholic beverages with 24% alcohol or less are not subject to limitations in checked bags,” says the TSA. “Mini bottles of alcohol in carry-on must be able to comfortably fit into a single quart-sized bag.” Whatever you do, don’t whip ‘em out while you’re on the flight, though. It’s a surefire way to get arrested when you land. 

Do this: Free walking tours | Not that: Expensive guided tours

Many cities – especially in Europe – offer free walking tours led by knowledgeable locals. It's a great way to learn about the history and culture of a place without breaking the bank.

Giacomo Piva, travel industry analyst and cofounder at Radical Storage, also suggests that you think about creating your own itinerary.

“Who requires a guided tour when you have a smartphone equipped with Google Maps readily available? Planning your own itinerary allows you to cut costs and gives you the flexibility to discover locations at your leisure and see the sights that truly capture your attention,” he told ConsumerAffairs.

“By doing some research and the power of technology at your fingertips, you can create a unique travel plan and steer clear of crowded guided tours.”

The type of trip is more important than the destination 

“Rather than choosing the exact destination, choose the trip type,” Daniel Green, co-founder and CTO at Faye Travel Insurance suggests. “That way you can opt for a most cost-effective location that may not see as much foot traffic as the most popular locale.”

Do this: Local markets and street food | Not that: hotel restaurants

Experience the vibrant flavors of a destination by sampling local delicacies from markets and street vendors. It's usually much cheaper and more authentic than eating at hotel restaurants. If you want a directory of food trucks, ConsumerAffairs found this one.

Do this: Ask for a discount | Not that: Pay full-price

Almost every place offers discounts these days. Discount for cash, discount for Seniors, discounted happy hours. Just call in advance and ask. 

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