Summer tends to be a popular time for travel, and understandably so. It’s a time when school’s not in session, the weather is warm, and schedules tend to be more relaxed.

Data from IPX1031 finds that 50% of Americans plan to travel more in 2024 than in 2023. And 85% will leave their home state to travel, while 38% intend to travel internationally.

But depending on the trips you’re planning, you could be looking at spending a substantial amount of money during your travels. And you may also be looking at crowds. Make these moves now so that neither one is an issue.

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Think you’ll be able to just arrive at a national park this July and get a hotel room nearby? Think again. Popular destinations like national parks and theme parks tend to book up for summer in advance, so this is one situation where winging it might come back to bite you. 

Instead, commit to your summer destinations within the next couple of weeks, and then start researching lodging to make sure you’re not shut out. You may also want to book your flights in advance if you have a limited window of time to travel in.

Remember, just because you’re able to find flights for the dates you need doesn’t mean you’ll be looking at affordable flights. So any time you’re traveling during a popular period of the year, it’s a good idea to make your arrangements ahead of time.

2. Open a travel rewards card with a sign-up bonus

A generous credit card sign-up bonus could put a nice sum of money into your pocket. That’s cash you can use to pay for your upcoming trips.

If you’ll be securing lodging and flights ahead of time, you might as well put those expenses on your new card, as that could make it easier to meet the spending requirement needed to get your bonus. Also, when comparing credit card offers, you may want to focus on travel rewards cards. Not only do some of these offer nice sign-up bonuses, but travel reward cards commonly offer money-saving perks like free checked baggage and discounts on in-flight purchases. 

3. Start banking your rewards points

Unless you’ve been diligently saving up for your summer trips already, you may find that covering your costs is easier said than done — especially if you’re bringing a large family along for the fun. One way to offset your travel costs is to rack up reward points on your various credit cards and reserve them for your upcoming trip. 

At the same time, though, don’t just count on reward points. Instead, research your total travel costs, come up with a budget, and figure out how much of that your rewards (plus a potential sign-up bonus) will cover. Then, see how much of a difference you’re left with so you’ll know how much you need to save between now and your first departure date.

You don’t want to end up with debt during summertime travel. It’s important to come up with a game plan in advance. 

Ideally, your summer travel plans will go off without a hitch. But make these moves so you don’t wind up stressed or disappointed.

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