I’m going to be travelling quite a bit this summer, starting with a girls trip to Portland, a week in Paris for my 30th birthday, a few days in Vancouver for a wedding and who could forget FinCon 2016 in San Diego.
Fortunately, I put part of my pay cheque into my travel fund every two weeks, but no matter how you look at it — travel is expensive. Especially when the Canadian dollar is so low.
So, even though I’ve saved up a chunk of cash for these trips, I still need to find ways to make my dollar stretch as far as possible. The best ways to save on travel are to find deals on flights, accommodations and activities and make smart financial decisions, so the timing couldn’t have been better when KAYAK released its 2016 Summer Travel Hacker Guide to hack the where, when and how to travel this summer.
My husband and I have been big fans of KAYAK for years, and I even used the site to help me find the cheapest flight possible for my Portland trip. What would have cost me about $1,000 only cost me $625 (thank you!).
If you haven’t used KAYAK yet, in short it’s a travel search engine like no other. It doesn’t just find you the best price for hotels, flights, car rentals and vacation packages, but because it actually analyses huge amounts of data, it can also tell you the best dates to travel, when the best time to book your flight is, what median airfare you should expect to pay and much more.
Their 2016 Summer Travel Hacker Guide goes into even more detail by including tips on what to expect when you get to each destination (like average temperature and rainfall), what cities are starting to become trendy to visit, along with the top Summer Friday to Sunday what cities are starting to become trendy mini-break destinations. KAYAK looked within its billion+ searches to create this destination guide. For full methodology, visit www.kayak.com/summertravelhacker/2016/methodology. All median costs included here are based on the Summer Travel Hacker Guide data.
After taking a thorough look at their guide, here are my top 10 picks for places you should consider travelling to this summer if you want to maximize your travel budget.
1. Bali in August
I’ve wanted to go to Bali, Indonesia ever since I read Eat, Pray, Love, and I’m making a note that the best time to go for the money appears to be in August! If you want to hit the reset button and get some true R&R, this is definitely the destination for you. Visiting the historic temples, catching some rays on the beach and monkeying around at the monkey sanctuary are just a few things you could do on your trip. Median airfare is $992 and hotels’ median rates are $156/night.
2. Helsinki in September
Helsinki, Finland seems to be a great bargain if you don’t mind delaying your summer vacation until September. You can check out the ancient cathedrals, visit a Finnish spa and take a boat tour along the beautiful canal route. Median airfare is only $599 and median hotel rates are $119/night.
3. Naples in July
Stroll through the ruins of Pompeii, pretend you’re a royal by visiting the many castles around the city, and of course enjoy some world-class Italian food when visiting Naples, Italy. Median airfare is $1,040 which is a bit pricey, but hotels are pretty cheap at median cost of $113/night.
4. Split in September
I’ve had a few friends visit Croatia and rave about it, and I can understand why since the city of Split is known for its gorgeous beaches and medieval architecture. Beach relaxation and a history lesson, sounds good to me! Although even low airfares can still be pricey (median at $1,142), median hotel rates are $161/night.
5. Montevideo in August
Montevideo, Uruguay is slowly becoming a hot destination for summer vacations. KAYAK’s guide explains that there has been a 32% increase in flight searches since the previous year, so it must be a great place to check out. From doing a wine tour in the afternoon, catching a football game in the evening or joining the locals for live tango at night, there’s plenty to do in Uruguay’s capital city. Plus it doesn’t hurt that median airfare is only $842 and median accommodation rates are $101/night.
6. Porto in July
The next destination on my husband’s bucket list is Portugal, and I can see why because the city of Porto is absolutely stunning. Known for giving the world port wine, you can take a tour on a moliceiros (like a gondola) through the city’s canals, check out the historical Porto Cathedral or just indulge in a meaty, cheesy Francesinha sandwich. Median airfare for July to Porto is $811 and median hotel accommodations are $113/night.
7. New Orleans in August
I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans two years ago for FinCon 2014. Although I was in a hotel for the conference for a good portion of my stay, I made the most of my trip and went on a bayou tour, did a walking tour of the Latin Quarter and ate as much local food as I could get my hands on. I will absolutely be visiting this city again, and I think I’ll be doing so in August when the median airfare is $312 and median hotel rates are $163/night.
8. Cuenca in September
Cuenca, Ecuador is cool at night and warm during the day, what more could you want for a summer getaway? What should you do when you get there you ask? Why not explore the Archeological Park with ruins believed to be from the ancient Incan city Tomebamba, or hit up a local dance hall to show off your salsa moves. Median airfare is $595 and you can snag a hotel for a ridiculously cheap median rate of $52/night.
9. Krakow in August
Visit this former Polish capital and get your history fix in Krakow, Poland. Besides a number of WWII museums and historical sites, Krakow is also known for it’s old world churches and delicious Polish delicacies. Median airfare is $879 and median hotel rates can go for $120/night.
10. Toronto in September
Being a Toronto native now for 3 years, I can highly recommend visiting the “6” for your summer vacation! September is actually a great month to visit because the weather is still warm and you don’t have as many crowds since school is back in session.
There are so many things to do in Toronto besides visiting the CN Tower too. You can check out the dinosaur collection at the Royal Ontario Museum, visit Toronto’s very own castle at Casa Loma and picnic on Toronto Island! And if you’re in Toronto before September 5, you can also check out the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) for a ride, a beaver tail and a ton of fun. Median airfare for September is $325, though hotels can be a bit pricier at a median rate of $185/night.
Bonus Money Saving Tips
Finding the best deals on things like flights and hotels is crucial to having an amazing trip without breaking the bank, but since I have travelled my fair share, here are some of my bonus money-saving tips for the travel hacker in you:
- If you’ve got points, use them! I know so many people who fly for free or save extra on accommodation by taking advantage of travel and hotel points and credits.
- Hotels are great, but depending on where you’re going you could cut that cost in half by booking a room at a hostel or trying out AirBnB instead.
- Don’t eat out for every meal. If you can, grab some bread, fruit or yogurt for breakfast at the grocery store and keep it in your hotel fridge. You can also save by going to nice restaurants for lunch and then going someplace a bit cheaper for dinner.
- Track your spending when you’re on vacation so you don’t come home in the red! This could mean writing everything down, or taking photos of all your receipts.