How to afford your next vacation

by Caroline Costello

The cheapest time to travel is upon us! Labor Day weekend evokes late-summer trips to the beach, family barbeques and back to school — but for travelers, the holiday indicates the start of shoulder season for many destinations.

Shoulder season is the period between a destination’s high and low seasons. During shoulder season, rates for hotels, airfare and cruises drop well below typical high-season prices. Keep an eye out for shoulder-season travel discounts in destinations including Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii and American beach towns. Travel deals for these regions start popping up around late August and September, and last until mid November, before the Thanksgiving holiday season kicks in.

Travel deals, of course, are a fabulous way to save some cash. But if you don’t have enough money to take a trip in the first place, that half-off hotel room or free companion plane ticket will do you no good. In his Traveler’s Ed column on, Ed Hewitt offers a solution to this dilemma. Hewitt lists nine creative ways to save for a vacation — and some of them may surprise you. Here are a few of his tips:

– Establish a grandparent or parent travel grant. Is grandma always spending money on you in the form of lumpy sweaters or bulk packages of socks? Direct her generosity to more practical purposes: start a foundation and request grant money from your dear grammy. Learn how on

– Set up automatic transfers. I have automatic transfers in place on my own account that regularly shuffle money from checking to savings. The transfers have significantly beefed up my savings account, and I barely notice the small amount that gets shaved off my checking account each month. Transfer just $14 per week into a special vacation fund, and you’ve earned $730 by year’s end.

-Rethink your travel budget. Have you ever considered how much money you save while you’re away from home? Writes Hewitt, “I encourage you to do a budget that accounts for money you don’t spend while on your trip. This includes food, lower energy bills, weeknight movies, Netflix or on-demand rentals, suspended paper delivery, etc.” Tally it all up and you may discover that your dream vacation is not as expensive as you thought it was.

Read these and more tips on saving for a vacation on

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