School’s out, the weather is warm, and everyone seems to be planning a new adventure. It’s no wonder that summer is one of the most popular times of the year to travel. It’s also one of the most expensive. Whether you’re traveling by car, plane or train, the best way to avoid the increasingly high cost of summer travel is to plan ahead. You’ve probably already worked hard to save money in advance with a savings account, a CD, or something similar, and are wondering what else you can do to cut costs. These three transportation tips will ease your burden and make your summer trip more enjoyable.
1. Take care of your car
Planning on driving this summer? You can save money by planning the shortest route possible, looking up the cheapest gas prices with a free mobile app like GasBuddy, or renting a fuel-efficient car. If you’re taking your own car, make sure it’s in tip-top condition before you hit the road. You’re probably due for an oil change soon anyway, so why not schedule a basic inspection too, just to be on the safe side? If you do find something wrong with your car, you’ll have to pay more money up front, but you’ll save on long-term repair costs. Nothing’s more expensive or annoying than car trouble in the middle of a long drive.
Summer is also a great time to think about buying a new car. Navy Federal’s Auto Buying Program can help you find the perfect new or used vehicle. They can also help you finance your purchase with an auto loan or help you refinance your current loan.
2. Expect extra airline fees
It’s a fact: air travel is way more expensive now that it was 10 years ago. Due to the rising cost of fuel, new taxes and less competition, prices are likely to stay high. Unfortunately, many airlines are making up for their increased expenses by tacking hidden fees onto the cost of a plane ticket. Many airlines now charge extra for checked bags, in-flight meals and seat assignments. Need to switch your itinerary last minute? You could be charged for that too. Airline fees can vary drastically, so be sure to research them in advance. Southwest and JetBlue allow you to check a limited number of bags for free, for example, but Sprint and Allegiant will charge you for any type of luggage, including carry-on bags. Even if you’ve already booked your flight, you can avoid nasty surprises by planning ahead and packing accordingly.
3. Consider the train
Traveling by train always takes longer (in the United States, at least), but it can definitely save you money. Plus, your train ticket comes with some fabulous, unexpected perks. Unlike many airlines, Amtrak’s fee structure is reasonable and transparent. Your ticket includes two carry-on bags and two checked bags, and free Wi-Fi on trains that have it. Snacks and soda aren’t included, but you can easily pack your own, since TSA airport guidelines don’t apply.
Amtrak trains feature all the services you’d expect from a high-quality airline, like business class and comfortable sleeping accommodations, plus designated quiet areas, frequent rider rewards programs, and rail tour packages to some of the hottest tourist destinations in the United States and Canada. Plus, Amtrak’s regional routes travel to the heart of major metropolitan areas like New York, Washington DC and Seattle, making them especially convenient. If you haven’t checked out Amtrak’s website lately, we highly recommend it.
Federally Insured by NCUA. The views expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views of Navy Federal Credit Union. This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. This article is a guest post from Laura Edgar, a senior writer for NerdWallet, a consumer finance comparison website.