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After the winter chill blows away, many people start thinking about making summer vacation plans. People who have families also want to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time with their children while they are out of school. Couples might just want to get away for some romantic quality time together. There are plenty of ways to vacation economically and still have a fantastic trip. If you are thinking about a summer getaway, here are some tips for saving money that will help make sure that your summer vacation does not break your budget.
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Try to find a vacation home rental as an alternative to booking a regular hotel room. Cooking meals instead of going to restaurants will save you a small fortune. Even if the cost of a home rental is higher than a hotel, the money you will save by not eating out three meals a day more than makes up for the cost. If you cannot find a good vacation home to rent or you are using reward points, then at least book a hotel suite with a kitchenette.
Some people may think, “Ugh, I don't want to sleep in a tent for a week!” There are other ways to camp. Many campgrounds offer cabins that are climate-controlled and far less expensive than staying in a hotel. Sitting around the campfire roasting hot dogs is a great way to spend time together. Pack a few pans, a grill and some groceries and you can easily cook three meals a day. Additionally, if you have children, they will love playing with the other kids at the campground.
Financing Your Trip
Ideally, it is best if you have a vacation-savings fund that you can use to pay for your trip. Although, if you do not, then avoid charging the trip on your credit cards. Consider getting a loan from a website like Citibank, Wells Fargo, even your local bank instead. Personal loans usually have a lower interest rate than credit cards and you get a fixed monthly payment that is easier to work into your budget.
Check Travel Options
While it might be tempting to want to fly to a better locale, airline prices are nothing to snicker at, especially when you have to buy multiple tickets. Compare all your travel options. Depending on your route, driving may be a much less expensive option and allows you to pack as much as you can fit in your vehicle. In some cases, you might want to consider taking a train or bus instead. Compare prices for all your options to figure out which is the best for your trip.
Avoid Holiday Weekends
Many people like to plan their trips around Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day. Holidays are the worst time to travel during the summer. You will pay more for a place to stay, gas and some stores in touristy areas even raise their prices during holiday weekends. Travel during less hectic times during the summer. If you plan on going to the beach, try to go early in the summer in late May or early June before the season really peaks in July and August.
Plan on Doing Laundry
If you do have to fly to get to your destination, find accommodations somewhere you can do laundry. Even if you have to go to a nearby coin-operated laundromat, it will still be cheaper than paying for luggage. You might not like the idea of doing a boring chore like laundry while you are on vacation, but it is better to spend $20 to $30 and wash your own clothes than to pay excess airline baggage fees that can be as high as $100 or more per suitcase.
Stay Outside of Town
While you might enjoy being right in the center of things, staying a few miles outside of the central attractions can save you a lot of money. You pay a premium price for staying in a major city or a beach town. If you go 5 to 10 miles outside of the main area, you can cut your room or home rental costs considerably. If you are willing to go off the beaten path, you may be able to cut your accommodations costs in half.
Plan in Advance
The earlier you can book your trips, the more likely it is you will get better deals. Airfares, hotel rooms, and rental homes are almost always less expensive if you book them well in advance. Make a list of things you and your family will need for the trip. If you have to buy items before you go away, buy them when the items are on sale. For example, you can often get great deals on swimsuits at the end of the summer and then you have them in advance for next year.
Something about being on vacation provokes the urge to make impulse purchases. Do you really need t-shirts, key chains, postcards, and other novelty items? Another trap people often fall into is that they see a great deal on something they have wanted to buy and they feel like, “Well, I'm not going to be able to get back here again anytime soon, so I should get it now.” Think about it first. If you can buy it there, you can get online and find a similar deal when you get home.
Your summer vacations should be enjoyable and memorable. You might even want to splurge a little bit. However, you do not want to spend more than you can afford either. Just because you are on vacation that does not mean that all your rules of living frugally should be tossed out the window. Be a little flexible about planning your trip and apply the same rules of smart spending that you use in your day-to-day life. You will enjoy your vacation a lot more if you do not feel guilty about all the money you spent after you get home.
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