Tips to save time and money on summer travel: Fly, drive and cruise for less

Airfare dropped for the third consecutive month and gas prices are down.

June 13, 2024, 11:50 AM

As travelers get ready to hit the road, take to the skies and head out on the high seas this summer, experts have some simple tips that could help you save both time and money.

Cost-effective tips for air travel this summer

Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, shared the team's newly released annual report of the best airlines with "Good Morning America," which sums up the most reliable U.S. airlines striking a balance between reliability, cost, experience and value.

This year, Kelly said "Delta came in at No. 1 for the sixth year in a row," noting the airline "didn't win in any one of the four major categories, but they're strong consistently across the board."

"In reliability, I want to give a shoutout to Allegiant Air, which is a smaller, low-cost air carrier -- they did not bump a single passenger in 2023," he said. "Getting where you need to go is a big part of air travel, so kudos to them."

An Allegiant Air Airbus A319-111 prepares for takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport, Oct. 19, 2023, in Los Angeles.
AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

With most major carriers increasing baggage fees across the board, Kelly applauded Southwest Airlines, which he said "still allows two checked bags free."

Domestic deals to save on summer travel

The average airfare has dropped again, according to the latest inflation data from May, which means that it's actually 6% cheaper to fly now than this time last year.

Katy Nastro, travel expert and Going.com spokesperson, told "GMA" that airfare is now 19% cheaper than June of 2022, when airfare was at its highest price points. She said it's also cheaper than February 2020, when air travel was still "normal."

To take advantage of the three-month streak of cheaper prices, travelers can look for deals both at home and abroad.

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"There's a lot of great domestic fares," Kelly said. "We're seeing New York to San Francisco for $197 round trip."

He also noted that now is a great time to visit wine country in Northern California.

Additionally, he pointed to deals on airfare to and from cruise port locations. "New York to Miami $87 round trip -- that's a great jumping off spot for cruises," he said.

The Points Guy team has also tracked fares from Los Angeles to Charleston for under $200.

"Charleston is a great food city, but there's also beautiful beaches in that part of the country that you shouldn't overlook," he said.

In this undated stock photo, people are seen enjoying Folly Beach near Charleston, S.C.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration recently reported its second busiest day in history, with nearly 3 million people screened across the country.

Even with record travel numbers, Kelly said there have yet to be any "major meltdowns" at airports or specific airlines, but sadly said it's a different story when it comes to getting to the airport.

"Our roads can't handle the crowds -- I highly recommend people leave early for the airport," Kelly said. "Traffic is an issue. So if you're a procrastinator like me, don't be, and head to the airport a little earlier this summer."

Check in early for flights to earn access to upgrades

As soon as the check in window opens within 24 hours of a flight, experts encourage using the airline's app to seamlessly check in and avoid any issues, especially if you're checking bags, because with some fee policy changes, it could cost you more by making that choice in person the day of your flight.

Plus, checking in early also offers more possibility, depending on your loyalty status, to receive any upgrades.

Avoid lost luggage with 'baggage hygiene'

The ramp director at Newark Liberty International Airport told ABC News to make sure you remove old bag tag stickers from previous flights that could potentially send your baggage to another airport.

Passengers go through security check by TSA at Los Angeles International Airport, Jan. 10, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The ramp director also suggested removing any ribbons, which is a common way to identify baggage, because it could obstruct the printed locator tag.

Get through security with ease by separating certain items

Whether it's a quick weekend getaway or you've become a carry-on packing pro in order to avoid paying for checked luggage, there's another simple step to take before getting to the security checkpoint that can hopefully speed things along.

Every airport is built differently and requirements for what to put in a bin whether you're in the Clear, TSA pre-check, or standard security line seemingly vary at an array of locations when it comes to what needs to be taken out or off like liquids and shoes.

Put items that are known to be problematic at security, such as batteries, candles, baby wipes, food or other items that may obstruct the X-Ray from getting a clear read, into their own designated removable pouch or section of your carry-on so that it can be easily removed and rescanned a lot faster.

Summer of cruises with deals at hot destinations

In this undated photo, a Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship is seen at the pier on Royal Caribbean's private coastal peninsula of Labadee, Haiti.
Ron Buskirk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

There are still some great deals at sea to capitalize on later this summer, with some as low as $50 a night in August, according to ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

"A four-night Key West and Bahamas cruise starting at $242 a person. A four-night short Caribbean cruise for $251 a person. And a four-night Bahamas cruise for $209 a person," she shared. "Really, the bottom line here is the more flexible you can be and the more all-inclusive you book, the better deal you're going to get."

Road trip and hit the road for less with lower gas prices

In this undated stock photo, a person is seen filling their car with gas.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Jarvis said Americans can road trip for less than it would have cost this time last year with gas prices at $3.46 on average nationwide.

"That's down about $0.13 a gallon from where we were last year," she said, adding that "AAA is forecasting that a number of states are going to see their states dip below $3 a gallon in the coming weeks."

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