The moment we've been dreading has finally arrived: summer is almost over. Labor Day weekend generally marks the unofficial end of the summer, so it's time to go out with a bang. We've outlined five last-minute Labor Day travel tips so you can soak up a few more moments of summer without breaking the bank.
1. Use Your Rewards Points
The best part about traveling? The opportunity to earn rewards toward more travel! If you are a frequent flyer, the best time to consider using your miles is during the holidays.
While ticket prices tend to skyrocket for Labor Day (and other holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day and July 4), you can cash in your rewards to ensure that travel won't hit your pockets too deep. Although the tickets could require slightly more miles than usual, the options will be much better than paying out of pocket.
If you're booking without using miles, make sure you earn the most rewards you can for future trips by using the right credit card. For example, some co-branded airline credit cards offer double miles when you book using that card.
Others, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, give you 2 points per $1 spent on any travel purchase, including dining. And don't forget: booking with a credit card can also get you valuable travel protections, like trip interruption insurance and lost or delayed baggage protection.
Find the best rewards cards in Experian's credit card marketplace.
2. Take a Road Trip
If flights are beyond your budget even after using your miles, there's always the option of hitting the open road. Many people often forget that fun is right in your backyard.
With places like Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, the Berkshires, Key West, Las Vegas and New Orleans all approximately 4 hours or less from major U.S. cities, you don't have to travel far for a good time. Just be sure to charge gas and other expenses to a credit card that maximizes your rewards.
If you want a beach locale, a boardwalk destination, or some city adventure, you can venture to these cities for some local fun and opt to "live like a local" at an Airbnb or local bed and breakfast instead of laying out tons of money for a hotel. Hooray for fun and affordability!
3. Search Last-Minute Deal Sites
Social media is the best for finding flash sales ahead of the holiday weekend. If you have a flexible travel schedule and are not concerned about tons of advance planning, keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for flash sales from sites like @SecretFlying and @TheFlightDeal.
In May, for example, @TheFlightDeal posted a deal on their page that scouted out Labor Day fares to Athens, Greece, on Emirates for less than $500 round trip. And while you may not find a deal that lavish just ahead of the holiday, there are always other destinations such as Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Spain, Charleston and more that have been offering low fares all year long.
4. Go Off The Beaten Path
Yes, we all love Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Miami, and Jamaica. But do something different this holiday and cut costs by choosing lesser-known locales that offer the same attractions as better-known vacation spots nearby.
Never been to the Poconos? What about Birmingham, Alabama? How about Lake Michigan? There are plenty of places that offer amazing attractions, scenery, and history that are perfect for the whole family. Don't underestimate the off-the-beaten-path destinations—they tend to be the most fun and you can't beat limited crowds during peak summer travel time!
5. Use Coupons
There's no shame in your coupon game! Deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have some great deals that offer discounts on everything from products to services to attractions and more.
Not sure what to do in a new city? These sites are a perfect place to start if you're looking to save and indulge at the same time. So try out that restaurant you read reviews about when you researched your destinations. Or treat yourself to a spa appointment to relax during the holiday. The possibilities and options are plentiful.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.