Want to save money on the next trip?

By Omar Kaywan

The window to plan a summer vacation is closing rapidly. According to data from NerdWallet, travel prices have increased 17 percent. But taking a trip this summer doesn’t have to mean letting it drain your retirement account. Here are a few tips on how to keep travel costs to a minimum.

Book in advance.

Traveling is only going to get more expensive. If you’re booking a flight, it’s important to start looking now and keep an eye out for any deals. Around two months out from your trip will give you the best prices on flights. While it might seem like a good idea to book a hotel room at the last minute in hope of securing a sweet last-minute deal, you may find yourself without a place to stay at your destination. Book in advance as well and call the hotel to see if they’ll give you the deal once it goes live.

Choose off-peak days.

If you’re able to, travel on the least common travel days such as the middle of the week. If you’re flying, you’ll likely get a cheaper plane ticket, and you may just miss the sudden gas price increase that weekend travelers have to grumble and groan about their entire trip if you’re driving. Choosing the days you’re traveling can have a huge impact on cost.

Get travel insurance.

While you may have found the best prices on flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc., your entire trip can be turned upside down by illness or travel interruptions. Travel insurance that can help you get a refund or another flight if you experience trouble while traveling. Instead of wasting money on a trip you can’t even go on, you could use your refund to book another trip.

Use and sign up for loyalty points.

Major hotels and most airlines have rewards programs that can help pay for your trip or stay. If you’re really looking to cut costs, redeem your miles and use your loyalty points. You can also look at what rewards your credit card offers for travel and use points from there to pay for airfare, hotels and other qualifying travel expenses. Sometimes if you first sign up for a loyalty reward program, you get welcome offers such as 10 percent off.

Take advantage of senior discounts.

Check if you’re eligible for senior discounts. Some resorts and packages offer them for travelers as early as age 55. If you’re signed up for senior memberships such as AARP, you should also utilize the travel discounts available.

Omar Kaywan is co-founder of Goose Insurance, a provider of travel insurance and other insurance products.