The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

5 top ways to save money on July Fourth holiday travel

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With the July Fourth holiday falling near the weekend, lots of people will be leaving town.

If you haven’t booked your  travel plans for the weekend yet, it's not too late. Here are the top tips on saving money:

1. Be specific about departure and arrival times

Many travelers will leave Southern California on Wednesday and return on Sunday, said Jeanenne Tornatore, a senior editor at travel website Orbitz.com. Flights on different days may be cheaper, she added. 

“If you can avoid Wednesday and Sunday, [and] leave Thursday that’s probably a great time to travel,” Tornatore said.  “Everyone wants to be out at the parades on Thursday morning, so airports will likely see a lot less travelers going through that morning.”

2. Look for hotels in the suburbs

Consumers can save money by staying in hotels in the suburbs instead of near the popular tourist spots, Tornatore said.

For example, she’s seen cheaper prices at hotels in the Upper West Side of New York, as opposed to Midtown Manhattan.

3. Look for hotel and plane packages

Travelers can save money by booking their hotel and airfare in a package, said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman with the Automobile Club of Southern California. The packages are often cross-promotions between various travel companies from car rentals to hotels. Montgomery recommends customers compare buying items separately to buying them in a package.

“A lot of times [the packages] are a good deal,” she said.

4. Don't dine out

Look for hotels with free breakfasts, Montgomery said. 

Or with a kitchenette.

“You can bring back leftovers or cook your meals in your room,” said Tornatore, of Ortiz.com. “That can often times help you save.”

Both travel experts recommended looking for discounts before you head out to the attractions, whether that's booking tickets online or getting deals through other memberships.

5. Next year, don’t procrastinate

Travelers can often find better prices when they book three to four weeks ahead of July Fourth, Tornatore said.

Bonus list: The top five July Fourth destinations for Southern Californians

  1. San Diego
  2. San Francisco
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Grand Canyon
  5. Central Coast

Source: Automobile Club of Southern California

How do you plan to save money on your Independence Day weekend? Share your tips in the comments below.

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