Mid-summer travel hacks to save you cash

HOUSTON – There are almost two months left of summer. If you're trying to squeeze in a family vacay on the cheap, it's still possible. Consumer expert Amy Davis has ideas to help you save on last-minute travel. 

Before you fly out of Houston, you have to park, and those costs can add up. Blogger Laura Thornquist of ModMomTV found parking at an airport hotel for less than she would pay at a traditional airport lot. 
"I'm gonna pay $3.99 a day and get shuttled there instead of paying the regular price at airport parking," Thornquist said. "So that's a huge savings for us; $4 a day. You can't beat that."

You can search through Airport Parking Reservations. Make sure you compare prices to traditional airport parking, too. 

At Ecopark, you can pay $4.43 plus tax if you book online with a coupon you can get on the same site.  

If you're looking for low-cost airfare this summer, your best bet is to search Google Flights for the lowest prices or check out skyscanner.com.

At this point in the summer, Thornquist said you should choose your destination based on where you find the lowest fares. On Escape Houston, we found round-trip airfare from Houston to Chicago that is good beginning in August.  

If you have your heart set on a specific city, Thornquist said you want to plan at least two months out. 

"Typically you need to give yourself at least 54 days booking in advance to get the best price," she said. 

By booking trough the website Yapta, you can get airline refunds after you buy. Yapta watches prices, so if they drop below a certain amount you can get a refund of the difference. Yapta doesn't work with all of the airlines, so check it out before you book. 

Whether you're planning a staycation or you're going out of state, Groupon has deals that can cut your entertainment costs significantly. 

"For example biking in Central Park, instead of paying $20 for my family, I'm paying $8.50," Thornquist said, "So it's just a really good option for me."

Just type in the name of the city you're visiting and look for  deals you can buy before you go. 

If you have pets you'll need to board when you fly out of town, Thornquist said you should look for boarding places close to the airport or places that are open 24 hours. It could mean the difference of paying to board your pet an extra day depending on what time your flight gets in.

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