NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As more Americans shun the "staycation" in favor of exotic beaches, mountains and international adventures, savvy travelers will have to go the extra mile to find deals on summer getaways. According to American Express, 75% of consumers will take a vacation this summer, up from 69% last year. Travelers are also planning to journey for longer periods -- 69% will enjoy a full week's vacation compared with 66% last year, and 32% will take a full two weeks off, up from 29% last year.
Yet even though more consumers are looking to see the world this summer, they still want to do it on a budget -- 91% of travelers say they're looking for ways to cut costs this summer, and 60% say they're willing to make trade-offs to afford those trips. We checked in with experts to find five ways to beat the crowds to the best deals.
1. Sign up for hotel loyalty programs and ask about special offers
Many people sign up for airline frequent-flier programs but forget about hotel loyalty programs, says Amy Graff, blogger for OnTheGoWithAmy.com and Best Western travel expert.
"Those points really do add up, especially if you're going on a longer trip," Graff says. "People start out thinking, 'I'm only going to be here for a night or two, no point signing up,' but it doesn't cost anything to sign up."
Many hotels will have promotions this summer offering the third or fourth night of a stay free, says Bob Diener, co-founder and president of Getaroom.com.