The summer travel season can be pricey and stressful, with crowds flocking to popular destinations worldwide. While it may sound exciting to travel to Europe in the summer, the reality may be very different. My social media feeds are filled with clips of tourists packed around the Trevi Fountain, lines around the Louvre and disappointed tourists who missed out on tours that sold out in advance. All of this is avoidable if you’re willing to be flexible with your travel dates and follow where the deals are.

Travel is more enjoyable with fewer people around, which is why I’m taking a different approach to summer travel planning. Rather than just staying home, I’ve managed to save money and still enjoy a wonderful summer filled with travel adventures. Points and miles are a big part of my travel booking strategy, but it goes beyond that. Here are four ways I’m avoiding the crowds (and sky-high prices) this summer.

I’m avoiding busy travel dates

While most people are bound to a school calendar that restricts long-term travel to the summer months, I have flexibility in terms of when and where I can travel. So, I try to avoid the summer months, the crowds and high prices that come with the territory.

The main way I avoid peak pricing is by steering clear of busy travel dates like the Fourth of July and weekends — unless I’m traveling to big cities, where weekend hotel rates tend to be lower. Not only does this strategy save me money and points, but I’ll also avoid the huge crowds that flock to popular destinations during these dates. Furthermore, I can stretch my travel budget much further by heading to off-peak destinations and letting deals dictate my travels.

I’m avoiding popular destinations

Europe is absolutely packed this time of year. My social media feeds are packed with reels showing the streets of Rome, Paris and London swarming with tourists. Travelers are complaining of long lines, sold-out tours, hot weather and high costs. It sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant way to experience some of the most magnificent cities in Europe — which is why I’m steering clear of them altogether. I’ll head to Europe in either the fall or spring, when the weather is still pleasant, the crowds are minimal and travel costs are more reasonable.

The same goes for Hawaii — as much as I’d love to frolic on the beaches of Maui this summer, it’s just not affordable (with points or cash). So, I’m avoiding popular destinations and letting Google Flights dictate my destination. I’m seeing much more reasonable fares and hotel rates in Cancun, Mexico, and Orlando, Florida, this summer. Even the Pacific Northwest, which is more accessible to me as a California resident, is a more affordable destination this summer than other tourist hot spots.

I’m leveraging all-inclusive hotel deals

As hotel rates reach peak levels, all-inclusive resorts are very reasonable in comparison. I’ve seen highly-rated all-inclusive resorts in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Los Cabos, Mexico, for under $300 per night this summer. Using points, you can find fantastic deals at low-category Hyatt hotels, which start at just 12,000 points per night.

Hyatt has over two dozen hotels worldwide (including in Spain, Mexico and Bulgaria) where you can find terrific properties at low redemption rates. You can earn Hyatt points fairly easily, thanks to a 1:1 transfer partnership with Chase Ultimate Rewards. All-inclusive resorts can provide excellent value for your points and cash, helping you stay on budget by including meal costs into your stay.

I’m using my Venture miles for direct travel redemptions, since award space is limited

The mainstream loyalty programs don’t always provide the best value when it comes to using points. For example, airfare costs are soaring right now, and most major airlines employ dynamic pricing. And when cash prices increase, so do award prices. Delta Air Lines is a major culprit, charging as much as 100,000 miles round-trip for domestic flights during peak travel dates.

When mainstream loyalty programs increase both their point and cash rates, you can still find value by booking travel through third-party sites with low-cost airlines (think Frontier or Spirit) and boutique hotels. Top travel credit cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card come in handy during these times because you can redeem your miles toward virtually any travel cost at a rate of just 1 cent each. Doing so sometimes works out cheaper than redeeming points, and you’ll even earn rewards through your loyalty program of choice on these bookings.

I was able to find some fantastic summer travel deals for Cancun resorts. For example, a six-night stay at the all-inclusive Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya was pricing out at nearly $3,000 in June. However, I was able to find a rate that was $800 cheaper for the same room type on Club1 Hotels, a member-only travel site. It can work out much cheaper to book a rate like this and redeem 300,000 Capital One miles toward the purchase than redeem nearly 100,000 Hilton points per night.

To pay under $370 with taxes and fees for a luxury resort where all meals and on-site entertainment are included is a fantastic deal. Yes, Cancun is rainier in the summer than other times of the year, but it’s the Caribbean — rain is usually brief and intermittent no matter what time of year you visit. If you’re fine with a bit of rain (and a good dose of sunshine), there are fantastic deals out there to be found.

The bottom line

While my initial reaction to the summer travel crowds and high travel costs was to stay home, I’m glad I made it work. By leveraging points and miles and being flexible with destinations, I managed to plan quite a bit of travel this year on a reasonable budget. I’m lucky enough to not deal with a school calendar when planning trips. However, anyone can save money and avoid overcrowded destinations by being willing to travel to off-peak destinations. You’ll save money, have a calmer travel experience and still escape the monotony of everyday life.