Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tips for Estimating the Cost of a Summer Vacation

Due to the poor economy, many Americans are foregoing their annual summer vacations or at least significantly cutting back. If you are on a budget, but still want to plan a good summer vacation, you should take three steps. They involve determining how much money you have available to spend, estimating the cost of your trip, and cutting corners when needed. Out of these three steps, estimating the cost of your summer vacation is the most important, but it can also be the most difficult. Continue reading on for a few helpful tips.

Estimate the cost of everything. Your goal is to plan a summer vacation you can afford. To do that, you must know how much you can expect to spend. Are you driving or flying? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Estimate the cost of travel. Where do you intend to stay? Unless staying with friends and family, estimate the cost of a hotel or resort. You want to account for each dollar you are likely to spend. If you will buy souvenirs, estimate the cost of them. If you attend to pay for activities and attractions, estimate their costs. Since you need to eat, estimate the cost of food, snacks, and drinks.

Do more than just a general estimate; create a detailed one. For example, you may think “I can spend $50 to eat on the first day of my trip.” This is good, but created a detailed list. Start with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. A good example is to plan to spend $5 for breakfast at a fast food establishment, $15 dollar for lunch at a casual restaurant, $5 for snacks a local convenience store, and $25 for dinner at a nice sit-down restaurant. This approach is best as it later allows you to cut corners. If your estimates have you going over your vacation budget, forgo the dinner at a fancy restaurant. Reduce the cost from $25 down to $12 by opting for a casual restaurant instead.

Use the internet to help you estimate the cost of your trip. As previously stated, you want to know how much you can expect to spend. This will help you determine if you can truly afford your dream vacation. It is easy to estimate the cost of air travel or hotels. Use the internet and request a free quote. As for attractions, activities, and food, use the internet as a guide. Visit a few websites for nearby restaurants and attractions. What are their average costs? Use them as a guide.

Overestimate. Using the internet makes it easier to estimate the cost of a summer vacation, but rarely are you 100% on. For that reason, always overestimate. If you come across a cute restaurant online that charges an average of $12 a meal, roundup to $15. This will help account for an unexpected price increase. Overestimating is better than underestimating. If you underestimate the cost of your trip, you may be left broke on the last two days. How will you eat now? With overestimating, the worst is you will have extra cash in your pocket. Splurge on a nice meal, buy a few extra souvenirs, or save the money.

Don’t forget about free things. The best way to save money on a summer vacation is to take advantage of anything that is free. For example, your hotel may have free donuts or bagels available for guests. A warm breakfast is nice, but why pass up something for free? At the very least, intend on eating breakfast at your hotel half of the trip. By doing so, you have no costs to estimate as it is free. Do the same with activities and attractions. Use the internet to research those with low or no admission fees.

As a recap, if you are vacationing with limited financial resources, create a budget. Determine much money you have to spend, estimate the cost of your vacation, and compare the two. If your dream vacation is too expensive based on your estimates, work on cutting costs.

Plan a Cheap Summer Vacation and Lower the Cost of Airline Baggage

Did you just finish making your summer vacation travel plans? If so, your trip dates will soon arrive. If you are flying to your destination, you may start to pack soon. If you haven’t already heard, many airlines have started charging extra baggage fees. Many airlines now charge you a set fee, like $25 one way, for a second bag of checked luggage. Unfortunately, some are also charging for the first. Although this added expense is well-documented by airlines, it may throw your vacation budget out of whack.

So, how can you avoid or limit the cost of the extra fees airlines charge for your luggage?

First, do you need a suitcase? Do you have one? If not, keep costs in mind. How much do you travel? If you only take one vacation a year, you don’t need to invest $100 or more in one suitcase. Wal-Mart and Target have cheap suitcases for an average of $50 or less. If you need suitcases for each member of your family, look at the packaged deals. The suitcases are often different sizes, but a better value for the money.

Check the weather forecast before your trip. It is always good to be prepared for the weather, but don’t go overboard. If traveling to Hawaii, you won’t need a winter coat, hat, and mittens. You may want to bring a sweater and a raincoat, but don’t fill your suitcase with unneeded clothes and supplies. Check the weather forecast first. You may be surprised how much room you save in your suitcase by doing so.

Don’t pack what you don’t need. Many hotels no longer offer small bottles of shampoo and soap. If you do get some, it is usually less than before. This is a cost cutting measure. For that reason, bring health and beauty products from home. It will be cheaper than buying at a nearby convenience store or hotel lobby. Many discount and department stores have small travel size packages available for soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, and so forth. With the exception of toothpaste, save your money. You can also buy cheap packages of empty bottles, often marketed as travel cases. They cost no more than $2 for a large set. Take the empty bottles and fill with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion.

Invest in space saving travel bags. Many of these bags are advertised on television, so consumers think of them as nothing more than an infomercial product, but they do work. Travel bags don’t use a vacuum cleaner. Instead, you just fill, seal, and lean on. The key to using these bags is to not just fold your clothes into one pile. You will get a brick that isn’t much smaller in size. Fold that pile, but then fill the empty spaces in the bag. By properly using space saving travel bags, you can fit many clothes into one suitcase.

As previously stated, many airlines are now charging for the first bag of checked luggage. If you want to avoid these fees and are taking a two or three day rip, make use of your carryon bag. By using space saving travel bags, you may be able to fit all of your clothes into your carryon. Another great alternative is to limit the number of clothes you bring and wash your clothes at the hotel. Paying $5 to do a couple loads of laundry is still cheaper than paying an extra $15 each way.
If you are taking a vacation with your romantic partner or family, consider condensing luggage. Does your teenager have a half empty suitcase? You are wasting money if you pay $30 roundtrip for that suitcase. Share them instead. You may eliminate one or two suitcases by sharing, saving you money. This step is best with family. You never know what an acquaintance may try to sneak in their suitcase; don’t be held liable for someone else’s lapse in judgment.

Finally, be careful with souvenirs. They are nice, but costly and take up extra space. What if you don’t have enough room? You may need to buy an extra bag. Not only do you end up paying for the souvenir and emergency suitcase, but your airline may charge you an additional baggage fee. Your $5 shot glass may easily cost as much as $10 now. Use space saving travel bags to create extra space for souvenirs, limit your purchases, and only purchase those small in size.

Cheap Summer Vacations: Should You Wait for Last Minute Travel Deals

Are you gearing up to start planning your annual summer vacation? If so, you may be in a financial bind. The current state of the economy has many Americans completely foregoing their summer vacations or significantly cutting back. Luckily, you don’t have to. By looking for moneysaving travel deals and discounts, you can easily reduce the cost of your summer trip.

As previously stated, you can reduce the cost of your summer vacation with travel deals and discounts. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation that floats around concerning these deals. Many first-time travelers or discount shoppers believe the best deals are only offered at the last minute. Is this true? Should you really wait until the last minute to plan your summer vacation? Yes and no; honestly it all depends.

Last minute travel deals come in a number of different formats. It all depends on the company in question and their views. For example, one Jamaica resort may classify last minute travel deals as making your plans two weeks before your trip. On the other hand, a Hawaii hotel may expect you to wait until two days before. If you do intend to wait and book your trip at the last minute, just keep your eyes and ears open. Regularly visit online travel websites and the websites of hotels and airlines. See what deals are available to last minute travelers, if any are at all.

Speaking of which, not everyone offers last minute travel deals and discounts. You would think most would. After all, an airline loses money each time a seat is empty. A hotel loses money each night a room sits unoccupied. Yes, this is true, but that still does not push everyone to offer last minute travel deals and discounts. If you are counting on these deals and discounts, spend time browsing online travel websites and forums. Learn from other internet users who is likely to offer last minute travel deals and monitor them.

In most cases, the availability of last minute vacation deals depends on location and time. You are planning a summer vacation. Florida is a popular summer vacation destination. Most airlines rarely have problems filling up seats to Miami and hotels near Disneyland rarely go empty. Since these companies do not have a problem finding full-price paying customers, they are less likely to offer last minute deals and discounts. The key is to think outside of the box. Instead of Florida, why not Colorado? Their peak travel season is in the winter due to skiing. You are likely to find cheaper flights and hotels during the summer months.

Last minute travel deals and discounts are nice, because they save you money. Unfortunately, they aren’t guaranteed. You could spend days waiting for a last minute deal for a Jamaica all-inclusive resort only to never see that deal appear. What happens then? Are you left paying more because you waited until the last minute? Can you even get a hotel room? Did you already request vacation time at work? For many travelers, there are just too many what-ifs. If you need to have everything arranged ahead of time, don’t wait until the last minute. Luckily, hotels, airlines, car rental companies, and popular attractions offer special discounts all year round. You may get lucky and find one of these.

How to Save Money on Food During Your Summer Vacation

Are you gearing up for your summer vacation? If you are like most Americans, you may be vacationing on a budget. If you already made most of your travel plans, like if you booked your airline reservations and a hotel room, it will be difficult to cut too many expenses. Luckily, you still can with food. With careful planning and thinking outside of the box, you could reduce the cost of your summer vacation by $100 or $200 just by watching what you eat!

Always make use of free or discounted food. If staying at a hotel or resort, see what food extras are provided to guests. Special discounts may be offered just for guests for dinner. You may get a free cold breakfast, and so forth. Do not pass up too many of these special offers. They are a very easy and convenient way to save money; after all, you never leave the hotel property!

Avoid restaurants located right in the middle of popular vacation destinations. Are you traveling to Virginia Beach? Restaurants located along the coastline are costly to eat at. Use the internet to a little bit of research ahead of time or ask your hotel clerk. Aim for five or ten miles away. You are likely to find smaller crowds and better prices.

Look for moneysaving coupons. Many restaurants have coupons available. There are three good ways to find these coupons. First, use the internet to research nearby restaurants. Many travel websites will give you a large list in a matter of seconds. Visit their websites. Not only can you get an idea of the food available and their prices, but see if printable coupons are listed or review the list of daily specials. Many areas have Entertainment Books. These are books filled with coupons. They cost around $25 each, but are filled with hundreds of dollars worth of discounts. Visit the book website and view a sample of the coupons. It may be a wise investment. Finally, look in the hotel lobby. Many travel brochures and fliers have coupons attached.

Mix it up between fast food establishments, casual restaurants, and fancy sit down restaurants. If you are planning a romantic getaway with your spouse, you want to have the best. However, if you are on a budget, you need to reduce your expenses. To prevent boredom and get the best of both worlds, mix it up each night and try something different.

Eat in. Unless you stay at a vacation rental or book a suite, you will be lucky to get a refrigerator, let alone a working kitchen. This may make eating in seem impossible, but it isn’t. Stop at a nearby grocery store. Most have deli and carryout sections. Order a cold turkey sub, a small roasted chicken, and so forth. Bring the meal back to your hotel room. While at the grocery store, also buy snacks and drinks.

Buy drinks and snacks from grocery stores. At first glance, it will seem as if your resort community is only filled with convenience stores and gift shops. Ask your hotel clerk. He or she should know of a local grocery store. The prices will be lower. Stock up on dry food, snacks, and drinks. If you do not have a refrigerator in your room, buy a small foam cooler and keep it filled with ice. This may seem like a big inconvenience, but snacks and drinks can cost $1 or more less traditional grocery stores.

Outlined above was just a few of the many ways that you can reduce the cost of food on your upcoming summer vacation. With these tips, you can still have vacation of your dreams, only it will just cost less!

Reduce the Cost of Food on a Family Vacation

Is your family getting ready for your annual summer vacation? If you are like most Americans, the economy has impacted your wallet. For that reason, you may be vacationing on a budget. Luckily, there are many ways to cut expenses and save money. One of the easiest is with food. How can you reduce the cost of food when on a budgeted family vacation?

Avoid snacks at the airport. It is no secret that food, drinks, and snacks cost more in airports. Save your money. Your hands are tied with drinks, but bring snacks from home. Raid your cupboards. If you can’t find tasty dry snacks, head to your local grocery store the day before. You will save $1 or more just on a small bag of chips! As for buying drinks at the airport, opt for sealable containers because they reduce waste. If possible, share drinks.

If you are driving, pack snacks and drinks for the road. You are at an advantage because you can easily fill a cooler with ice. Pack cold sandwich meat and condiments. Your family will not even need to stop for meals. Many rest stops have barbeque pits, meaning you could even enjoy a nice tasty meal, as opposed to a quick sandwich. The key is to keep your cooler filled with ice and stock up on foods before your trip, as you get the better deals.

Try to avoid kids meals, especially at sit-down restaurants. Kids meals are nice at fast food establishments because your kids get a toy. This isn’t always the case with sit-down restaurants. You just get smaller portions and a neat cup, but the costs aren’t much lower. It may be best to let your two children decide on a meal together or alternate at different restaurants. A small child can rarely finish an adult sized meal, especially when you figure in the main dishes and side portions. Ask for another plate and let them share. Essentially, you feed two kids for the price of one!

Avoid expensive restaurants. For family vacations, the best places to eat are casual dining restaurants and fast food establishments. Fast food is nice, but you may want to have a nice sit-down meal with your family. If on a budget, choose a restaurant known for their semi-affordable prices. Consider the tip above and share meals. Moreover, keep these stops few and far in between. Look at a nice sit-down restaurant as a special treat, not a daily occurrence and you will save a lot of money.

Buy snacks from grocery stores. All communities have grocery stores, even resort towns. After spending a day of sightseeing, your family may want to retreat back to the hotel, have a snack, and get ready for bed. It is expensive to buy those snacks from a gas station or hotel lobby. On the way back to the hotel, stop at a grocery store. Opt for an express lane and you will be out quickly, easily saving $5 or more on your family’s snacks.

Take advantage of discounts for hotel guests. It is common for hotels to offer free cold breakfasts to guests. For a warm breakfast, you may just get a discounted rate. Either way, you save money. The same goes for lunch and dinner. Keep taps on the discounts offered to hotel guests at the onsite restaurant. This is a good and convenient opportunity to save money.

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: Driving Tips

Are you ready to start planning your summer vacation? If your vacation destination is within a reasonable distance to your home, you may consider driving. If so, continue reading on a for few moneysaving tips. With the poor economy and most Americans on a budget, don’t pay more for your summer vacation than you need to!

So, how can you reduce the cost of driving when on a budgeted summer vacation?

First, you need to decide whether you want to drive your own car or rent one. This will be a tough decision. You may feel more comfortable with your own vehicle. It will be cheaper. You just pay for gas. However, is your car brand new? How many miles will you be adding and how much will it depreciate in value? What about wear and tear? Is it worth it? For most, it is a personal decision. Just be sure to keep the costs in mind, especially if you are on a strict budget.

Become an AAA member, also known as Triple A. This membership has many benefits. The greatest is roadside assistance. What if your car breaks down? Will you be left stranded in an unknown place? Not if you have a good membership. Yes, you could easily pay $100, but remember that you are covered for at least one year. Not only do you get roadside assistance, but many hotels, restaurants, and car rental companies have discounted rates for AAA members.

Get your car serviced beforehand. This may seem like an added expense, but it will be worth it if driving an older car. Make sure your vehicle will make the trip in one piece. If you are familiar with cars or know someone who is, opt for this instead. It will be cheaper. Check the pressure in the tires, change your oil, and so forth. A well serviced and functioning car makes it easier and cheaper to drive to your summer vacation destination.

Don’t stop at the first gas station you see. Gas prices vary greatly. They are usually more expensive right by highways and interstates. You could easily save .10 cents a gallon by driving a few minutes down the street. Unless you are in a hurry or concerned for your safety, do not opt for the first gas station you see. In fact, if you stop for dinner, look at the gas stations along the way and compare prices. When heading pack to the interstate or highway, stop at the station with the cheapest prices.

Pack your own snacks and drinks from home. On extended road trips, many travelers opt for dinner at a rest stop. Yes, this is convenient, but very costly. Your best bet is to bring food from home. Pack a cooler filled with ice, drinks, sandwich meat, and condiments. Stop at the rest stop areas, but only use their picnic tables. You may be surprised how much money this saves! At the very least, bring your own snacks and drinks. These too are expensive at convenience store, especially near interstates.

Have a map, navigation system, or someone you can call for directions back home. Getting lost is common when on a summer vacation. You may want to drive around to find the cheapest gas or take a shortcut to avoid a traffic jam. That is okay, but not if you get lost. You may put your safety at risk and then there are the added travel costs. It is best to stay on your preset path, but only venture off if you have a way to avoid getting lost.

In short, there are many ways to reduce the cost of driving to your summer vacation destination. Luckily, these steps are easy to implement. Better yet, driving is usually the cheaper alternative for most. Airlines have been suffering financial losses for years. They are trying to avoid additional losses by charging higher rates and tacking on additional fees. Save your money this summer. If you can drive to your vacation destination, do it!

Plan a Cheap Summer Vacation in 8 Easy Steps

Are you on a budget? If so, planning a summer vacation may literally be the last thing on your mind. Luckily, there are many travel deals and discounts available. By taking advantage of these deals and discounts and with careful planning, you can easily have a great summer vacation, even with limited financial resources.

So, how can you plan a cheap summer vacation in 8 easy steps?

1 – Decide on a Destination

We all have ideal summer vacation destinations. Pick your top two or three favorites. Which would be cheaper? If on a budget, keep costs in mind. You want to have the vacation of your dreams, but make sure you plan a trip you can actually afford.

When choosing your destination, keep seasons in mind. Some vacation destinations, like Hawaii and Florida, are popular all year round. Others, like Colorado, are season specific. Colorado is most popular with skiers in the winter. You are likely to find more summer travel deals and discounts because it is considered their off-season.

2 – Decide on Your Dates of Travel

Once you have a destination in mind, choose your travel dates. If on a budget, consider shortening your trip. Yes, you may be accustomed to weeklong vacations, but what if you can’t afford one? Opt for a three or five day trip instead; you automatically save money.

When choosing your travel dates, keep events in mind. The more activities that are happening around town, the more expensive hotels rooms are and they harder they are to come across. Try to avoid the weekend of July 4th, when a popular concert is taking place, or a business convention.

3 – Visit Online Travel Websites

If opting for a hotel, go to the well-known travel websites, like or If opting for a private vacation rental, focus on websites designed for these rentals. Price compare. Different hotels and private vacation rentals have different fees. Online travel websites are known for their moneysaving deals on travel packages. Save money by booking your airfare, hotel, and car rental in one large package.

4 – Price Compare Again

Unfortunately, online travel websites do not always give you the best deals. Luckily, it is easy to tell. They should give you the names of the hotels, car rental companies, and airlines. Visit their websites and request more quotes. Compare the two. Go with the cheapest.

5 – Book Your Travel Plans

Once you have found the cheapest travel package or independent reservations for a hotel, car rental, and your flight, make your travel plans. Many experts claim the best time to book reservations is early Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

6 – Determine How Much Money You Have Left

Since you already booked your airline reservations, car rental, and hotel, focus on the other aspects of your trip. These include food, activities, attractions, souvenirs, and so forth. For example, if you had $1,500 to spend and your airfare, hotel, and car rental totaled $900 for the week, you have $600 left.

7 – Estimate the Rest of Your Travel Costs

Once again, you already booked your hotel, car rental, and airline tickets. Focus on attraction admission costs, activity rental fees, food, and souvenirs. Visit online travel websites to familiarize yourself with local activities, attractions, and restaurants. Examine online menus or attractions to get an average cost idea. Then, estimate the cost of each meal, activity, and so forth. You now have a good idea how much you can expect to spend on your summer vacation.

8 – Compare and Cut Expenses if Needed

In step 7, you estimated the cost of travel and in step 6, you determined how much money you had available to spend. Compare the two. If your vacation looks like it may be more than you can afford, start cutting corners. Opt for a fast food restaurant, instead of a sit down restaurant one or two nights, try to find parks and other attractions with low or no admission fees, and so forth.

Plan a Cheap Summer Vacation at an Amusement Park with These Tips

When most Americans think of amusement parks, Disney is often the first thing that comes to mind. Planning a trip to Disneyland is nice, but it can be very costly, especially if you must travel far. Luckily, most states have at least two or three large amusement parks. Six Flags is just one of the few that comes to mind. Although it won’t take you an entire week to explore the park, you could easily spend a day or two. If you are on a strict budget, this may be the perfect vacation.

The key to planning an amusement park vacation on a budget is to stay close to home. As previously stated, most states have a couple large parks to choose from. On average, you could expect to drive three to five hours. That may seem like a lot of time on the road, but leave early or the night before. An amusement park a few hours away is likely just as good as one a plane ride away. Luckily, it is cheaper for most to drive. This automatically means you save money.

Look for discounted admission tickets. Six Flags is just one of the well-known amusement parks in the United States that offers discount tickets. These tickets are usually available on their website or at third-party locations, such as nearby grocery stores. Discounts vary greatly, but you may find deals that come with a set dollar amount off each ticket, buy one get one free, or buy one get one half off. Either way, you save money. Once you choose an amusement park to spend a day or two at, visit their online website. This website can be found with a standard internet search. Look for online specials or a list of local stores where discounted tickets are available.

If your amusement park trip is a two-day trip, consider waiting until the afternoon one day. Many amusement parks offer discounted tickets the later in the day you arrive. For example, it may be cheaper to arrive at the park at 3 in the afternoon. Yes, you miss a good percentage of the day, but not if the park is open until 9 or 10 at night! This approach is best for two-day trips. You have another full day to enjoy the fun.

Limit the number of games you play. Games at amusements parks are neat. It is fun to win a prize. Unfortunately, those prizes aren’t guaranteed. You can pay $2 or $3 to shoot at a target and walk away with nothing. Luckily, most amusement parks have gift shops. You can buy a souvenir, many of which are the same prizes available with games, for a more affordable price. Of course, playing games is part of the fun. You don’t have to completely forego them, just limit the number played.

If you can, bring your own snacks, drinks, and lunch. Many amusement parks allow guests to bring snacks, drinks, and food onto their property. This is because most have picnic tables and barbeque pits. Unfortunately, you may not want to carry a cooler or backpack around all day. Bring a few snacks. For meals, opt for affordable options. Amusement parks are home to a collection of restaurants, including sit-down restaurants. They are nice, but usually very costly. Opt for a quick snack or fast food meal. Not only should it be cheaper, but you have more time to explore the park.

Avoid rides and attractions that cost extra. Most of the rides at amusement parks are included in the cost of your admission, but there are some exceptions. For example, bungee jumping usually costs extra. Unless you have your heart set on bunging jumping, avoid it. Amusement parks, like Six Flags, are filled with hundreds of rides and attractions. You should have no problem filling your entire day with these free rides.

Compare the cost of onsite hotels or consider camping. It is not uncommon for amusement parks to have onsite hotels and campgrounds. Camping should be cheaper. Buy a cheap tent or borrow from someone you know. As for hotels, compare prices, but look for discounts. The cost of your stay may include admission to the park.

Plan a Cheap Summer Beach Vacation with These Easy Steps

For most, the ideal summer vacation is a beach vacation. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, many Americans are giving up their annual summer vacations. Don’t let your dream of a beach vacation wash away. It doesn’t have to. You can still have the vacation of your dreams; you just need to cut corners and expenses. Continue reading on to find out how!

Travel to a local beach. Many communities have local parks that can sometimes double as a beach. They often haul in sand and make use of natural bodies of water or manmade ones. Yes, you may not be swimming in the ocean, but at least you have the sand at your feet. If you live in the middle of the United States, this might be your best option. You will not need to fly to the east or west coast. Instead, hop in your car and drive. To really make it a vacation, book a night or two at a nearby hotel.

Compare the cost of hotels. Whether you opt for a small beach on a lake five hours away from home or if you fly across the country or even to the Caribbean, you will need a place to stay. An ideal beach vacation involves staying at a hotel with a beach view. After all, who wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning, walk to the balcony, and see a breathtaking view of the water? Unfortunately, you could easily pay an extra $25 or $50 just to do so. Compare the cost of all hotels, including those located inland. Inland hotels are usually cheaper, but you may get lucky and find a beachfront hotel offering an amazing deal.

Price compare vacation rentals. These may include homes, condos, and apartments. Most are rented by the night, but some may have weekly stay requirements. These types of arrangements are nice if you can find an affordable rental, have a large family, or are taking an extended summer vacation. Eating out gets costly. It is a lot cheaper to make your own food. A private rental gives you a kitchen and everything you need to do so. If you can’t find a cheap vacation rental, consider turning your summer vacation into a double date with another family you know. You can split the cost of a rental.

Price compare all-inclusive resorts. If traveling to a popular vacation destination, like the Caribbean, you may find all-inclusive resorts or travel packages. Most times, the cost of your airfare, room, food, drinks, snacks, tips, and entertainment is included. You will pay more upfront, but you usually get a better value for your money in the end. In fact, some tourists even save money!

If you are driving to your beach destination, pack a lot of food, drinks, and snacks. This will not only save you money on the road, but at your destination too. Popular vacation destinations have traditional grocery stores, but you are likely to find their costs higher than at home. Pack one or two coolers with food, open as little as possible, and refill with ice along the way. If your hotel or vacation rental has a refrigerator, transfer the items when you arrive or else keep on adding ice to the cooler. Yes, this may seem like a big inconvenience, but remember food, snacks, and drinks, are more expensive at popular vacation destinations.

If you are flying to your beach destination or don’t want to go through the hassle of keeping a cooler cooled, you need to proceed with caution. The cost of food, snacks, and drinks can easily add up. When possible, opt for plastic bottles, as opposed to fountain drinks or cans. You can reseal and continue using, preventing waste. If on a budget, mix it up between nice restaurants and fast food establishments. If your hotel offers a free or discounted breakfast to guests, make use of it.

When at a popular beach destination, like Virginia Beach, buying souvenirs can be tricky. Don’t buy them right away. A good approach is to spend your days browsing and make the purchases later. Many tourists who jump the gun and pay $6 for a souvenir shot glass are later surprised to see if for sale for $3 just one block away.

How to Find the Best Summer Vacation Deals

The current state of the economy has many Americans in a financial pinch. If you are one of those individuals, you may consider putting off your annual summer vacation. The good news, you don’t have to. You may have never given any thought to travel deals and discounts before, but you should now. By knowing where to look and what to look for, you can significantly reduce the cost of your summer travel. What steps should you take?

Think outside of the box. Many of us have a dream vacation destination. In fact, we often have more than one. If you do, don’t decide right away. Estimate the cost of traveling to the Caribbean or Hawaii. If you like both, why not see which is the cheapest option? Speaking of your destinations, consider traveling to locations where the summer is their off-season. A good example is with Denver, Colorado. It is busiest during the winter for ski trips. There might not be any snow, but you can get great deals on hotels and airfare.

Aim for a weekday trip. Luckily, many American take weeklong summer vacations. Schedule your summer vacation to start on Saturday and end the following Friday. You will spend most of your nights at a hotel during the week. This automatically means lower rates. The same applies to restaurants in popular resort communities. You are likely to find more and better daily specials throughout the week.

Look at what is happening around town. You are planning a summer vacation. You are automatically traveling during peak travel season. For that reason, you fill find higher costs for flights, gas, car rentals, and hotels. However, there are certain times you want to avoid, like the weekend of July 4th. Once you decide on a destination, use the internet to research ideal travel dates. It is best to avoid times when there is a big sporting event, a concert for a popular musician, or a big hobbyist convention. The hotels not only charge higher rates during these times, but there is likely less room available.

Get started with online travel websites. Online travel websites are nice. Not only do they allow you to compare the cost of 50 hotels or more in a matter of minutes, but they also sell travel packages. Unfortunately, online travel websites don’t always offer the best deals. You usually get the better deals only when booking travel packages. For just hotels or just airplane tickets, visit online travel websites and request a free quote. Then, head to the website of the hotel or airline in question and request another quote. They should be similar. If not, opt for the better deal.

Don’t wait until the last minute to find the best deals. Many first-time travelers mistakenly believe the last minute is the best time to find the greatest deals. Yes, many airlines and hotels offer last minute travel deals, but this is very risky. As previously stated, you are vacationing in peak travel season. During the summer, it is easy for airlines to fill flights and hotels to fill rooms. Last minute travel deals aren’t guaranteed and you shouldn’t risk it. If later see the cost of airfare or your hotel decrease, contact the company in question to get a refund for the difference. A refund isn’t guaranteed either, but at least your travel plans are made.

How to Find Summer Vacation Deals and Discounts

Are you ready to start planning your summer vacation? Unfortunately, the poor economy has left many Americans in a financial pinch. If you are one of those individuals impacted, you may consider foregoing your annual summer vacation. Luckily, you don’t have to. Many travel deals and discounts are available to help you save money. How can you find these deals?

By examining online travel websites. Online travel websites are well-advertised on television. and are just two of your many options. What is nice about these websites is that it makes comparing easy. Enter your destination, the number of people traveling, your dates, and what you need, like a hotel or car rental. In just a few minutes, you will have many arrangements to compare. What is the cheapest?

By comparing online travel websites. As previously stated, there are many online travel websites to choose from. You would think their rates are similar, but you may be surprised with the difference. This is due to different fees. If you want to buy a travel package that includes airline tickets, a hotel, and a car rental through a travel website, request free quotes from different websites. See which one offers you the better deal. Why pay more with when has a cheaper package available, and visa versa?

By booking your reservations independently. The best deals on travel websites are usually offered in the form of vacation packages. What if you don’t need a travel package? Are you staying with friends and family? If so, you won’t need a hotel and you might not need a car rental. That leaves just your airline tickets. It is usually cheaper to book single reservations directly from the source. If you need to book a flight on Southwest Airlines, you are likely to find cheaper rates right on their website.

Check in your hotel lobby for brochures. It is common for local businesses to place fliers and brochures in hotel lobbies. Not only do they include information about the establishment, but many also have moneysaving coupons. Use these coupons to reduce the cost of your summer vacation. Don’t pay full price unless you need to.

Look for coupons online for restaurants. When most of us think of food coupons, we automatically think of the grocery store. Food coupons also exist in the form of restaurant coupons. In addition to appearing in hotel lobbies, many restaurants post printable coupons on their websites. You don’t have to plan each of your meal ahead of time, but use the internet to research nearby restaurants. View online menus to get a taste of the food available, as well as prices. In addition to printable restaurant coupons, look for good daily specials. Opt for the best tasting meals for the lowest prices.

Finally, don’t forget about free activities and attractions. If you are vacationing on a budget, it is important to cut corners and expenses wherever possible. When sightseeing, you should mix it up between attractions with admission fees and those without. Once again, use the internet to do the research. If you wait until the last minute, ask the clerk at your hotel lobby. He or she may know of a local park where it is free to have a romantic picnic or a family friendly barbeque.

Family Vacation Tips for Those with No Extra Money

Family vacations are important. After all, everyone needs time to relax and unwind. In addition, the quality time family members spend together on these trips is important for healthy relationships. Unfortunately, family vacations can be expensive. Some Americans consider themselves on a tight budget when they only have $2,000 to spend, but what if you literally only have $200 in your savings account? Is a family vacation out of the question? No it isn’t, but you need to think outside of the box and closer to home.

If you want to plan a “family vacation,” but have no money, here is what you should do: Take a week or a few days off from work, as you would if you were traveling to a far away destination. In reality, you aren’t going anywhere. Each day, pick something new and exciting to do with your family within driving distance. Each day, do your predetermined family friendly activities and then return home. Sleep in your own beds and easily save up to $100 a night on a hotel room.

For many, part of a family vacation is trying something new. If you want, try camping in your backyard instead of having each family members sleep in their own beds. Tents can be expensive, but you can purchase cheaper, lesser quality tents for as low as $20. Also, don’t forget used tents or ask friends and family members to borrow theirs for a few nights. You still stay at home, but get a new and exciting experience.

As for the activities, start with things that are free. Local parks rarely have admission fees and they are usually home many facilities, such as a swimming pools, playgrounds, picnic tables, basketball hoops, and more. Use the food you already have at home to create a picnic lunch and spend the day at the park. Since you want a slightly new experience, consider driving the extra 10 or so miles to visit a new park in a different town.

Local parks rarely have admission fees, but state parks do. Luckily, this fee is affordable. In fact, many charge by car instead of by each person. State parks tend to have more activities. In addition to a playground, you may gain access to a natural swimming pool, barbeque pits, and more. Most importantly, most state parks have long, scenic hiking trials. Your family could easily spend the day at a state park for as little as $10.

Many communities are also home to museums. They may be large or small in size. Unfortunately, these museums, especially those designed for families and small children, tend to have high admission rates. You could easily pay at least $5 a person. If you wish to visit these types of attractions, save ahead of time. Take your spare change to the bank, don’t eat out for two weeks, and so forth. Also, look for special admission prices or discount coupons. Many attractions charge less the later you arrive towards closing.

Since you are basically not leaving home, but having a series of day long vacations, it can be easy to get bored. For that reason, seek the help of your children. Ask them what activities they would like to do or what attractions they would like to visit. As long as the activities are semi-affordable and you all have fun, your “family vacation,” should be amazing, even if you don’t travel far from home.

Cheap Summer Vacations: Do Travel Packages Save You Money?

If you are like many other Americans, the poor state of the economy may leave you wondering about your summer vacation. Should you still travel? Can you afford it? Many Americans are completely foregoing their summer vacations this year, but you don’t have to. There are many ways to save money and reduce travel costs. One of those ways is with summer vacation travel packages.

When it comes to travel packages, one of the first questions new deal seekers ask is “do they really save you money?” Unfortunately, the answer might not be what you wanted to hear. Honestly, it all depends. You should consider many factors. Continue reading on for tips on how you can tell if a summer vacation travel package will save you money or end up costing you more.

What types of travel arrangements are needed? This is an important question. Luckily, travel packages can be customized. Many online travel websites allow you to book packages for your airline tickets, hotel, and car rental. On the other hand, you can get a hotel and a car rental, or just a plane ticket and a car rental, and so forth. The key to choosing a cheap travel package is only buying what you need. Can you stay with friends and family nearby? If so, do not waste money on a hotel. Find a package that only includes your airline tickets and a car rental. Paying for things you don’t need is nothing more than a waste of money.

Are you traveling with children? This is another important question to ask yourself. Did you know that hotels and airlines occasionally offer discounts for small children? Children under the age of two should not need their own seat on a flight. Let them sit on your lap and save hundreds of dollars. If you want to get your young child his or her own seat, but do not want to pay full price, contact the airline and try to arrange a discount. If these discounts are offered, they are usually offered directly through the airlines, not on travel websites. At the very least, look for travel packages that specifically ask about children and their ages.

Is it cheaper to book your reservations independently? This question is also important, but it isn’t as easy to get an answer. Online travel websites and travel packages are designed for convenience. You get many travel and booking options all within a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, you do not always get the best deal. When requesting a free quote on an online travel website, they should provide you with the name of the airline, hotel, or car rental company. Visit each of these company websites and request another quote for the same travel dates. Tally up their costs and compare the two. Only buy a summer vacation travel package if you are getting a discount. It shouldn’t cost more.

In short, online travel websites and the summer vacation travel packages they offer are nice. However, there are no guarantees you will save money. Luckily, you can tell by dissecting your travel package and comparing the cost. Yes, they are convenient to buy, but don’t buy a travel package unless you save money. Your goal is to plan a cheap summer vacation, make sure you get one.

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: Your Booking Options Reviewed

Are you gearing up to plan your summer vacation? If you are on a budget, you may wonder how you should book your vacation. Which approach gets you the best deal? Continue reading on to find out.

When it comes to planning a summer vacation, you usually have three booking options. They include using a local travel agent, an online travel website, or making your reservations independently? Which option saves you the most money?

As for local travel agents, it usually depends on who you know. If you personally know a travel agent, they may be willing to take the extra step to help you get a better deal. Otherwise, travel agents are designed more for convenience. You don’t want to spend hours booking a vacation, so they do the work for you. You tell them where you want to go, when, and how much money you have to spend. They will give you an ideal arrangement and help you make the plans.

Although you will find a variance, some travel agents like to deal with or have special arrangements with hotels, airlines, and car rental companies. This may be a business arrangement or a personal preference based on previous experiences. Either way, you don’t always get the best deal with local travel agents. If you are concerned more about saving time and getting the best quality vacation, doing business with a local travel agent is ideal. On the other hand, if you want to save the most money, continue reading on for your additional options.

As for online travel websites, there are many to choose from. Well-known and popular websites include,, and Online travel websites are nice because they save consumers time. When comparing the cost of airfare, you can compare the rates of five different airlines in less than 2 minutes. If you book your vacation in the form of a travel package, you save time by planning most of your trip with one simple purchase. Saving time is nice, but remember your goal is to save money.

Although you will find a variance, online travel websites usually offer the best deals for travel packages. Do you need to book a stay at a hotel, need a car rental, and airline tickets? You are likely to find the best deals on these travel websites. If you only need to make one or two arrangements or can’t find an ideal summer vacation package, it may best to avoid them.

As for making each of your travel plans separately and independently, it may seem like a big inconvenience. Luckily, it is easier to find the best deals. Many airlines offer special one-way trips to popular vacation destinations. Hotels occasionally offer special deals, like a free or discounted nights stay with the purchase of five other nights, and so forth. The best deals are advertised right on their websites. A standard internet search can help you find these websites. It does take more time, but you may be surprised with what you find.

For most travelers, it is a tossup between online travel websites and independent reservations. Although online travel websites usually offer the best deals for vacation packages, it is easy to check. You should get the name of the airline, hotel, and car rental company. Visit their websites and request another quote. Add the three and compare to your quoted travel package costs. Do you save money? You should. If not, it would be better to make your travel plans independently.

Plan a Cheap Summer Vacation: Tips for Choosing a Private Vacation Rental

Are you in the process of planning your summer vacation? If you are on a budget, you should know that the best way to save money is to stay at an affordable hotel. Still, you don’t want a second rate vacation. If you have your heart set on staying at a private vacation rental, like a home, condo, or apartment, continue reading on for some moneysaving tips.

Use online travel websites designed for vacation rentals. Most of the larger and well-known travel websites focus on resorts and hotels. If you want to stay at a private vacation rental, perform a standard internet search to find travel websites that focus solely on these rentals. You will get a large list of rentals and you are likely to find better prices. To get started, perform a standard internet search with your destination, like South Carolina, and the phrase “vacation rentals.”

Unlike hotels and resorts, private vacation rentals are rarely offered in the form of travel packages. For that reason, you will likely need to book your airline reservations and car rental separately. A car rental is recommended. Unlike many hotels and resorts, you are rarely provided with airport transfers. In addition, since some rentals are out of the way, a car rental will allow you to sightsee without paying a lot for public transportation. To find the best deals and prices, price compare airlines and car rental companies.

Look at rentals out of the way. For example, if you are traveling to Hawaii, beachfront rentals are popular. Yes, it is nice to wake up to a beautiful view of the ocean each morning, but it will get costly. Instead, look inland or a few minutes away from popular vacation destinations. You are likely to find cheaper rental rates.

Look for vacation rentals that reward you for extended stays. If on a budget, you may consider shortening your vacation by a day or two. This is a great way to save money, but some vacation rental owners reward you for staying longer. Many offer discounted weekly rates, as opposed to higher nightly rates. You may save as little as $20 a night, but you might save as much as $100 a night. You won’t know until you look.

Opt for rentals with fully functioning kitchens. Vacation rentals and their kitchens vary greatly. Some come stocked with dishes and cooking supplies. You just need to wash after each use, but others you are required to bring your own plates and utensils. Opt for a rental that makes it the easiest for you to prepare your own meals; you will save a considerable amount of money. Speaking of which, stock up at a local grocery store. The less you eat out, the more money you save. You should find lower prices at actual grocery stores, as opposed to convenience stores, and grocery stores located further away from popular attractions. You may have to drive an extra 10 miles, but you may find average prices to be $1 or more less.

Consider making it a double date. One of the reasons why you are likely opting for a private vacation rental is for the privacy. You don’t want to cross paths with strangers in a hotel room or share a pool. That is okay, but it may save you money. Instead of strangers, opt for family members or close friends. See if anyone you know is looking to take a cheap summer vacation too. You could share the cost of a vacation rental. Most are large enough that you can do so.

As a recap, it is usually cheaper to vacation at a hotel or resort than to book a stay at a private vacation rental. However, by splitting the cost with another family you know, price comparing, and looking for rentals out of the way, you can lower their cost. Just because the economy is in bad shape and just because you may have limited financial resources, it does not mean you can’t have the vacation of your dreams. In fact, you can!

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: Tips for Choosing a Good Hotel

Are you in the process of planning a summer vacation? If so, are you on a budget? If you are, planning the vacation of your dreams may seem like an impossible task. Even with limited financial resources, you can still have a great time. Don’t plan a second rate vacation. Plan the vacation of your dreams. You just need to limit or reduce your expenses. There are many ways to do so, but a great place to get started is with your hotel. Continue reading on for a few tips on choosing a great hotel for your summer vacation when on a budget.

Look for hotels out of the way. Hotels located right in the middle of poplar vacation destinations automatically cost more. Consider going just five or ten miles out of the way. If you have a car rental, it won’t seem like such a big deal. The good part? You may save $50 a more a night. Another good example is with beach vacations. Do you want to travel to Virginia Beach or another popular beach destination? If so, look at hotels located inland. Yes, you might not get a beach view from your balcony, but you are likely to save at least $25 a night!

Price compare hotels to find the best deals. As previously stated, look for hotels out of the way because you are likely to find better deals. However, you never know. Hotels are known for offering special deals and discounts on occasion. See if you can find one. Online travel websites, like or, make it easier to compare hotels. In as little as two minutes, you can easily compare the cost of 20 hotels or more!

Speaking of online travel websites, examine vacation packages. Many packages can be customized, but most include the cost of a hotel, car rental, and airline tickets. One question many tourists ask is “am I really getting a good deal with vacation packages?” In most cases, yes, but it is easy to check. When getting a quote from an online travel website, they provide you with the names of the airline, hotel, and car rental company. Visit each website individually and request a free quote. Compare the two. If a vacation package gives you the best deal, opt for it.

Don’t forget about the little people. Hotels come in all different formats. Most tourists automatically think of the well-known and larger brands, such as Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Hampton Suites. These are nice, but there are locally owned and operated hotels, motels, and inns. Examine and price compare these. It won’t hurt to look. They need to draw attention to themselves somehow and most opt for affordable rates. Unfortunately, these smaller establishments are not always included in the search results for online travel websites. To check, perform a standard internet search with your destination and the phrases “hotels,” “motels,” or “inns.”

Opt for a hotel with an onsite restaurant. Onsite restaurants are designed for convenience, but many offer special deals for guests. For example, you may get a free or half-priced breakfast. For extra savings, you save money by staying onsite. You don’t have to waste gas with your car rental or pay for public transportation. Just walk from your room down to the onsite restaurant and enjoy a nice meal.

If you aren’t on a strict budget, aim for getting the best value for your money, as opposed to the lowest rate. If you do have money to spend, consider using it. When comparing price, also consider quality. What amenities are provided to guests? It is usually worth it to pay a few dollars more a night for access to a swimming pool, laundry room, fitness center, or childcare service. Once again, if you are on a tight budget, it is best to opt for the lowest price. However, if you have a little bit of wiggle room, get the best value for your money.

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: Souvenir Buying Tips

If you are planning a summer vacation on a budget, you want to reduce expenses. Luckily, it is easy to find good deals for airline tickets and hotels. For some however, the problem comes with souvenirs. They are nice, but costly. In fact, they take up additional space in suitcases. With many airlines charging additional fees for checked baggage, this just increases their costs more.

The best way to save money on vacation souvenirs is to not buy them at all. This is easier said than done. You want to have a memento from your trip and give a few small gifts to close friends and family members. If you want to buy vacation souvenirs, go right ahead and do so. The key is to be careful and spend your money wisely. How?

Don’t buy souvenirs on impulse. If at a popular vacation destination, like Virginia Beach, the streets are filled with souvenir shops and gift shops. Many sell the exact same products, but the prices vary greatly. Do you want a new pair of sandals with a Virginia Beach logo? The store you are in may charge $10, but did you know the store just a few steps away may charge $5 for the exact same pair? Price differences like these are common in popular vacation destinations and resort towns. To save the most money, browse first. Spend a few afternoons browsing through local shops. Make note of the prices. Another afternoon, return to the stores with the best prices to make your purchases. Don’t pay more money than you need to. Be a smart shopper.

Keep use in mind. There are all types of souvenirs available for sale. You can usually pick between logo shirts, magnets, shot glasses, and everything in between. Don’t buy a souvenir just for the sake of buying one. You may just toss it aside when you get home or your gift recipient will do the same. This is a huge waste of money. A great and cheap souvenir is a magnet. We all use them on refrigerators. T-shirts are best for children, as adults are less likely to wear tourist shirts. As for shot glasses, they too are cheap, but basically a worthless purchase for someone you know doesn’t drink alcohol. Save money. If you are going to buy souvenirs, buy nice or useful ones. Otherwise, you mine as well throw your money in the garbage.

Give yourself a budget for souvenirs. If you head into your trip knowing you want to bring home a few mementos, decide on a budget. For example, give yourself $30 to buy a gift for yourself, one for your mother, and so forth. When you have a strict budget, you are more likely to pay attention to prices and avoid costly impulse purchases.

Leave room for souvenirs in your luggage. If you head into your summer vacation knowing you want to buy souvenirs, not only set a budget, but also make sure you have room in your suitcase. Nothing is worse than needed to pay extra airline handling or luggage fees. A good approach is to use space saving travel bags. They condense clothes and leave more room in your luggage for souvenirs. Also, consider size. Try to avoid souvenirs that you know cannot fit into your suitcase.

In short, souvenirs are an easy way to increase the cost of a vacation and exceed your budget. You shouldn’t let that stop you from buying vacation mementos and gifts for loved ones. Just use your best judgment, price compare, think small, and you will be fine.

Cheap Summer Vacations: Moneysaving Tips for Camping

If you are on a budget this summer, camping may seem like an ideal summer vacation. Camping is a lot cheaper than staying at a hotel or resort. The good news? It can be just as fun! Although camping is a relatively affordable activity, the costs can easily add up if you aren’t careful. So, how can you plan a fun camping trip when on a strict budget?

Don’t buy a new camping tent unless you need it. Do you have an old tent in the garage that hasn’t been used for years? Get it out. Unfold the tent and air out for a few days. You may be surprised how good it still looks and works. If you do need to buy a tent, but are on a limited budget, consider buying used. Look on eBay, Craigslist, or check your local newspaper classified ads. To save the most money, ask around. Do you have any friends or family members who own a camping tent? See if you can borrow theirs.

If you do need to a buy a new camping tent, price compare first. They are available for sale at many locations, including department stores, discount stores, sporting good stores, as well as online. Look around to find the best deals. If you want to turn camping into a regular activity, read reviews online and invest in a good tent. If this may be a once in a lifetime event, focus more on saving money than quality.

If on a family vacation, you may have a teenager who wants to sleep in her own private tent, as opposed to in a large family tent. Check the prices. Cheap individual tents can be purchased for around $25, but do not buy something you cannot afford. Luckily, most family tents are sectioned off into rooms and designed to sleep at least 5.

Aside from the tent, the biggest cost of camping comes from location. State parks with camping accommodations and campground parks are your two best options. However, if you are staying close to home, consider camping in your own back yard. Move your tent as far away from the house as possible. It may seem like a second rate vacation, but it will still be fun and a lot cheaper.

Always price compare campgrounds. As previously stated, campground parks and state parks with camping accommodations are the best places to camp. Near popular vacation destinations, it is easy to find many camping locations. Use the internet to examine each. Price compare to find the best deal. Why pay $50 a night when a state park just five miles away only charges $25?

One of the reasons why camping makes a great summer vacation is because of the nearby activities. Whether you opt for a campground park or a state park, there should be a lot to do nearby. Many have a manmade beach or at least a swimming pool. Hiking trails, basketball hoops, and playgrounds are common. If you want to get out and explore the area, use the internet to research other nearby activities and attractions. However, make use of what is available to you. Your camping rates should include access to the hiking trails, water, and more.

In keeping with making use of the things provided to you, you should get a barbeque pit. Stock a few coolers filled with ice, drinks, meat, and condiments. If you want to spice it up, leave and find a nearby restaurant. Only do this one or two nights a week. You can save a lot of money by preparing your own food. If driving to your camping destination, stock up at your local grocery store because the prices should be cheaper. Otherwise, shop at a nearby grocery store. Avoid campground stores and convenience stores because they too have higher prices.

As a recap, camping is already an affordable activity and perfect for a summer vacation on a budget. However, as you can see from above, there are additional ways that you can cut costs. So, even if you are on a strict budget, you can still have an enjoyable vacation this summer whether you opt for camping in your backyard, down the street, or across the country.

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: Lower the Cost of Lodging

If you are planning a summer vacation on a budget, you are not alone. In fact, many American families are completely foregoing summer vacations. You do not have to give up your yearly trip. Instead, just focus on ways to reduce the cost. A great place to start is with your overnight accommodations.

So, how can you lower the cost of lodging when planning a summer vacation on a budget?

Try to stay with friends and family. If you are traveling to a destination where you have friends and family in the area, ask if you can stay with them. This is ideal if your family is small, as it won’t be seen as a big inconvenience. If dealing with family, most will let you stay free of charge. Still, even if you offer to pay $20 a night, it is much cheaper than a $100 a night hotel room.

Consider camping instead. This alternative is cheap and perfect if you have a large family or do not know anyone in the area. State parks and campgrounds are your best and safest camping options. If you don’t already own a tent or two, buy them. You can get great deals at department stores or sporting goods store. To save money, consider buying used or ask to borrow supplies from friends and family. Nightly camping rates vary greatly across the country, but you should pay no more than $50 a night, which is still cheaper than a hotel.

Compare hotels to find the best deal. Most popular vacation destinations have hundreds of hotels to choose from within a reasonable distance. Visit an online travel website. They are nice because they let you compare the cost of multiple hotels in a matter of minutes. Look to find the best deal or the best value for your money. For example, most families are willing to pay more for a hotel with an onsite swimming pool and fitness center. If you aren’t necessarily aiming for the best cost, aim for the best value for your money.

Don’t discount smaller hotels, motels, or even bed and breakfast inns. Sometimes, they charge lower rates, especially if there is a lot of competition nearby. Americans automatically think of well-known hotels, like Holiday Inn. These smaller establishments need to draw attention to themselves and most usually do so with affordable rates.

Avoid traveling during holidays. If you are planning a summer vacation, you are already vacationing in a peak travel season. However, you should try to avoid holidays and weekends. You can expect to pay more for a hotel the weekend of July 4th than the last week in July. Speaking of which, experiment with travel dates. If your plans aren’t set in stone, test out a few different dates. Are the hotel rates different? If so, opt for the cheapest.

Avoid traveling during convention times. Once again, if your travel plans aren’t set, look at what is happening around the area. Is there a popular concert, big sporting event, or business convention hosted that same weekend? If so, the hotels may already be filled. If not, they are likely to charger higher rates.

Bring your own snacks and drinks. Many hotels have onsite restaurants. These are nice, but you aren’t likely to find the lowest prices. They are designed more for convenience than anything else. At the very least, opt for affordable fast food or casual restaurants nearby. However, bring your own snacks and drinks. They are more expensive at convenience stores and in hotel lobbies. For extended trips, it may be wise to pay the extra costs for a suite upgrade that gives you access to a working kitchen. For extended trips, such as 5 days or longer, you will save a lot of money by preparing your own meals.

Staying with friends, at a hotel, or camping are your three cheapest options in terms of overnight accommodations. However, if you have your heart set on a private vacation rental, compare prices, look for discounts, or make it like a double date. Plan your family vacation with another family and spilt the cost of a private rental.

A Cheap Summer Vacation Idea: A State Park Tour

Are you trying to plan a summer vacation on a budget? If so, you may feel as if you are trying to accomplish the impossible. Your family may be used to spending a week on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii, but what if you can no longer afford that type of trip? Do you want to stay closer to home? If so, think outside of the box. You might not have given state parks a close look before, but they are the perfect vacation destination for those on a strict budget.

Right about now, you may be asking yourself “a state park; really?” Yes! At the least, you could easily spend an entire day at a state park. It sounds nice, but remember your family is accustomed to weeklong vacations. You can still give them a weeklong vacation. The goal is to create a state park tour. Each day you visit a new state park. Start with the parks near your home. The first two or three days, your family can return home and sleep in their own beds. As you get further from home, find an affordable hotel or motel.

Once again, you may wonder about state parks. Family vacations are supposed to be fun. Won’t your children get bored with visiting state parks again and again? Yes, they might. Luckily, each park is different and has something unique to offer. Speaking of which, many have campgrounds. Consider camping a night or two.

Returning back to making state parks fun, the key is to pick unique locations. If you and your children have visited a state park before, forego that one and move on to the next. To save money, make your first two visits closest to home. As you move away, consider the activities. The more activities you have available, the more fun you are likely to have.

The key is to also do something different each day. For example, day one can be at a local state park known for their natural pools underneath a waterfall. If the weather is nice, your family could easily spend hours swimming. Then, plan a barbeque lunch or dinner or both! Before you know it, the day will be over with. For day two, visit a state park known for their great hiking trails. You and your family could spend the entire day hiking. Stop for lunch or dinner. Once again, before you know it the day will be over with.

In addition to making use of the activities state parks make available through facilities, consider brining your own activities. For day one, bring baseball equipment. You and your family can easily a fun game of softball or baseball. For day two, bring a Frisbee to throw or a soccer ball to kick around. The younger your children, the easier it will be to plan activities. For example, a bottle of bubbles could easily keep a toddler occupied for an hour.

As for the costs, most state parks do charge admission fees. You should consider this when comparing your options. If you have two state parks within a half an hour drive, opt for the one with the lowest price. Parks that charge by the carload, as opposed to the person, is usually a good deal. As for food, make use of the picnic areas and barbeque pits available. Start planning for your trip beforehand. Stock up on drinks, snacks, and meat whenever you see a sale at your local grocery stores. Then, use a cooler to transport your goods to the park.

In short, do not forego your annual summer vacation just because you are on a budget. Instead, think closer to home and outside of the box. Yes, state parks are usually reserved for day trips, but you can easily turn them into weeklong vacations by visiting a new state park each day. Luckily, all states have multiple state parks. In fact, some have hundreds. You should not have to travel too far, keeping your summer vacation costs low.

Planning a Cheap Summer Vacation: How to Lower the Cost of Flying

If you are like many other Americans, you may consider giving up your annual summer vacation. Due to the poor economy, many Americans don’t have the money to spend. Those that do have the money are starting to think it may be best to save it. Yes, you shouldn’t plan a trip that you can’t afford. With that said, you don’t need to give up your summer vacation. Instead, just cut a few corners. Reduce your expenses whenever and wherever possible. A great place to get started is with airfare.

So, how can you reduce the cost of flying when planning a summer vacation on a budget?

Don’t fly unless you need to. Of course, if you live in New York and want to travel to Hawaii or the Caribbean, you need to fly. However, if you are living in Upstate New York and want to vacation in New York City, it may be easier and cheaper for you to drive. If your vacation destination is within driving distance, compare the cost of driving with flying. Which is cheaper?

Price compare airlines. Unless you have a favorite airline and if you belong to their frequent flyer program, price compare. Whether you are traveling to New York, Florida, California, Europe, or the Caribbean, you should have multiple airlines to choose from. Opt for the one that gives you the better rates.

Experiment with your dates of travel. The summer is already a peak travel season. For that reason, you will find fairly high airfare rates. Still, there are ways to lower their costs. Did you know what when you fly and when you book your tickets could mean a difference of $100 or more? It can. In most cases, it is cheaper to fly in the middle of the week, like on a Wednesday. You may have intended to depart for your summer vacation on Friday, but see if it would be cheaper to leave on Wednesday instead. As for booking your tickets, most travel experts claim the best time to book a flight is early Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Pay with a debit or credit card that rewards you for making purchases. PayPal has a debit card where members can receive up to 1% cash back. This is just one simple example. Different cards have different rules, restrictions, and rewards. Since most people can easily pay $200 for a ticket, get something in return. Whether it be cash back, extra airline miles, gas, or a new suitcase, get rewarded for a purchase you were going to make regardless.

Arrive at the airport early. Missed flights are rare, but they do happen. Unfortunately, many airlines have rules and restrictions. If you miss a connecting flight due to a late arriving plane, you will be taken care of. However, if you miss your first fight because you were late to the airport, you may be out of luck. In fact, you may have to buy a new ticket or pay extra fees. Don’t risk it. Arrive early.

Bring your own snacks from home. Your hands are still tied with drinks. Many airlines still provide travelers with free soda or water. You can also buy a soda, water, juice, or coffee from an airport store past security. As for snacks, you can bring snacks from home and you should. It is a lot cheaper to buy a bag of chips or a box of crackers from your local grocery store than an airport convenience store. The more food you have, the less likely you will need to eat a meal at an airport restaurant. Avoid the extra costs and long lines.

Limit your luggage. To help compensate for the huge financial losses airlines have been experiencing, many started charging extra airline luggage fees. Most airlines charge you a set fee, like $25 one way for a second checked bag. Unfortunately, many have also started charging you for your first. To lower extra luggage fees, pack only what you need, condense luggage with family members, use space saving travel bags, and make good use of your carryon bag.

As you can see, there are many ways to lower the cost of flying for a summer vacation. Whether you are traveling alone or with a group of friends or family, implement these steps. They could save one traveler at least $100.

Cheap Summer Travel: 7 Moneysaving Tips

Are you gearing up to plan your upcoming summer vacation, but are you also on a budget? Do you need to save money? If so, please continue reading on for 7 moneysaving summer travel tips. Watch the price of your summer vacation decrease by implementing these easy steps.

1 – Plan Ahead

Many new deal seekers mistakenly believe the best discounts are offered at the last minute. Yes, some hotels and airlines do offer last minute travel deals and discounts, but they aren’t guaranteed. You could spend weeks waiting for a discount to arrive, only to never see it. Luckily, hotels, car rental companies, and airlines all offer moneysaving discounts throughout the year. Find one of these discounts. It should be just as good and you will still save money.

2 – Avoid Airlines with Loads of Extra Fees

Airlines have been losing money over the past few years. To compensate for those losses, many not only raised their fares, but increased fees too. Not only compare airlines to find the best ticket prices, but look at additional fees. If you can’t escape these fees, especially baggage fees, familiarize yourself with them and pack carefully to avoid them.

3 – Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates and Time

When planning a vacation on a strict budget, you should experiment with travel dates and times. Did you know it is usually cheaper to fly on Wednesdays than Fridays? It is. For the best deals on hotels and airfare, plan your trip in the beginning or end of summer, not the middle. Hotels are likely to fill up quicker and charge higher rates when business conventions or popular sporting events are happening. Avoid these dates. This is where planning ahead is helpful.

4 – Look for Freebies from Hotels

When researching hotels, be on the lookout for those that offer additional extras for guests. A hotel with affordable rates and a free breakfast is ideal. Many hotels also have onsite restaurants. See if special deals and discounts are offered for guests.

5 – Use Online Travel Websites

Many travel websites, like, can be found with a standard internet search. You aren’t always guaranteed the lowest prices, but it won’t hurt to look. Many offer discounts on vacation packages, where you book two or three arrangements at once.

6 – Don’t Rely Solely on Travel Websites

As previously stated, travel websites are nice, but they don’t always offer the best deal. If you only need a hotel or plane tickets, as opposed to a vacation package, your best bet is to go directly to the source. You should find lower rates and special deals listed on the websites of hotels, resorts, car rental companies, and airlines. In fact, compare them. If it is cheaper to go with a travel website and a vacation package, do it. If not, book your travel reservations separately.

7 – Avoid Spending Money at the Airport

If the cost of flying wasn’t already high enough, you can spend a lot more at the airport. For that reason, proceed with caution. For food, eat before you depart for the airport. Have a large meal and bring dry snacks from home. To keep yourself occupied on the plane, bring books, movies, or magazines from home. Wal-Mart is the best place to buy these items, as they offer discounts. They will cost more at the airport.

Plan a Cheap Family Vacation at an Amusement Park

Do you want to plan a fun family vacation, but are you operating with limited financial resources? If so, an amusement park may be the answer to your problems. Right now, you are likely thinking there is no way you can afford a trip to Disneyland. Yes, Disneyland is one of the world’s most well-known amusement parks, but it is not your only option. There is Six Flags, Busch Gardens, and many locally owned and operated parks. Luckily, they are easier to travel to and much cheaper.

Your goal is to save money on your family’s vacation and an amusement park will help you save money. With that said, you still want to have a good trip. After all, unhappy children are the quickset way to spoil a family vacation. So, how can you ensure your family’s cheap vacation at an amusement park is a success?

Opt for an amusement park you have never visited before. Many states have at least two or three good amusement parks to choose from. If your family needs to drive an additional four hours to get to a new park, do it. It will be a new experience for your children. Leave at night or early in the morning. The long car ride won’t be a huge problem for your children if you have lots of fun activities and if they can sleep.

Consider making it a two or three day trip. One of the problems many parents run into is feeling like they are shortchanging their children. If your teenager is used to a weeklong beach vacation, a daytrip to the amusement park may not be what she had in mind. Really turn it into a vacation by staying one or two nights. Luckily, most amusement parks, like Six Flags and Busch Gardens, are large. Take your time and you could easily spend two or three days exploring the entire park.

As for your staying options, you usually have two. There are usually hotels and campgrounds located near amusement parks, if not right onsite. Camping will be your cheapest options. If you can stay onsite, see if special deals are available for guests. You may get free park admission. If you do have some money to spend and are more worried about the happiness of your children, ask for their input. Would they rather stay at a hotel or camp? Yes, you want to save money, but, if you have money to spend, ensure your children are happy.

Plan your amusement park vacation during the weekday. If you are concerned about missing too much work, schedule your vacation on a Sunday and Monday, so that you miss only one day of work. Weekdays are best. Sometimes, you will find lower admission fees. Best of all, the parks are less busy. You and your family will have more fun, as you will spend less time waiting in line.

Look for discounted tickets. Many times, you save money by buying your tickets early. Many grocery store sell discounted tickets. Discounts are also usually offered on the websites of these parks. In addition to discounted prices, you may find buy one get one free deals, free admission for young children, and so forth. Saving money on admission prices for your family’s amusement park vacation is nice. It gives you more money to spend on souvenirs or games.

Speaking of games, they cost money, but are loads of fun. A good approach is to set aside a specific dollar amount, like $10 for each child. Let them know once the money is gone, it is gone. Since games are scattered throughout amusement parks, let your child signal when they want to stop. Yes, they only have a small amount of money to spend playing games, but at least they get to handpick those games. You can also give them the alternative to take their game money and buy something at a gift shop.

In conclusion, you don’t have to forego your family’s summer vacation this year, even if you are on a budget. An amusement park is filled with fun. There are many ways that you can save money, while still providing your children with a great time.

5 Tips for Setting a Summer Vacation Budget

If you take an annual summer vacation, the poor state of the economy may leave you wondering. Should you take a vacation? Should you stay closer to home? Should you cut expenses? What expenses should you cut and how? If these are questions you have, please continue reading on for 5 tips on setting a summer vacation budget. A budget can help you plan a great summer vacation, even with limited financial resources.

1 – Decide on a Budget Total First

How much money do you have to spend on a summer vacation? Have a general idea ahead of time. It will be easier to plan your summer vacation on a budget when you know how much you are able to spend. For example, do you have $2,000 stashed away in your savings account? Do you want to use all of that $2,000 or just part of it? Having a set total in mind will make it easier to cut corners and expenses as you go along.

2 – Start Planning the Vacation of your Dreams

Do you live in New York and have you been dreaming of the beautiful beaches of South Florida? If so, plan that trip. Even if you are vacationing on a budget, you can and should still have the vacation of your dreams. If it is too expensive, focus on cutting corners. For example, opt for dinner two nights at a casual dining restaurant or a fast food establishment instead of a fancy five star restaurant. Yes, it is important to save money, but don’t settle for a second rate vacation. Honestly, there is no point in vacationing at all if you won’t have a good time.

3 – Estimate the Cost of Everything

When setting a budget, you need to know how much money you have available to spend, which you determined above, and how much you can expect to pay. It is easy to calculate the cost of travel itself. Request a free airline quote or calculate the miles to your destination and the cost of gas. Overnight accommodations are also easy. You can request a free quote ahead of time to know how much a stay at a motel, hotel, resort, or private rental costs. The problem comes with food and activities. Estimate to the best of your ability.

4 – Overestimate

When estimating the cost of your summer vacation, especially activities, attractions, and food, it is best to overestimate. If you underestimate the cost of travel and related expenses, you may find yourself skimping on your last meals to prevent going over your budget. If you overestimate, the worst that will happen is that you have money left over. At a casual dining restaurant, you could easily expect to pay $8 for a one-person meal. That may be cutting it close, so overestimate up to $10. Remember, the worst that will happen is that you will end up with extra money in your pocket. That is much better than not having enough.

5 – Work on Reducing Expenses

You should now have a list of your summer vacation costs. Your lists should include the cost of air travel, overnight stays, food, activities, attractions, and souvenirs. Total those costs and compare to the money you have available to spend. If your dream vacation will cost too much, work on cutting corners. Shorten your trip by a day or two, opt for cheaper restaurants, depart for your vacation on Wednesday instead of Friday to lower the cost of airfare, price compare to find the cheap hotels, and so forth. There are many ways to cut corners and expenses. These were just a few examples.

In short, you don’t have to be rich to have the summer vacation of your dreams. With careful planning, a budget, and a detailed list of estimated expenses, you can have the perfect vacation even with limited financial resources.

5 Tips for Planning an Affordable Family Vacation

Are you ready to start planning your family’s summer vacation? In the past, this was an exciting time. However, the economy now has many Americans in a financial bind. If you are one of those Americans, planning your family vacation may no longer be as fun. In fact, it is something you may dread. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. Although you are on a budget, there are many ways that you can plan a cheap, yet fun family vacation this summer. How?

1 – Stay Close to Home
When many of us think of summer vacations, plane rides and faraway destinations often come to mind. People like to getaway. A family from New York is likely to opt for Hawaii or Florida as their summer vacation destination. A family from Florida may opt for the Caribbean or New York City. These vacations are nice. After all, you get away and get to experience something new. Nevertheless, if you are on a budget this year, you should think closer to home. Plan a new activity each day and have a series of daylong vacations. For example, visit a state park with a natural pool and hiking trails on day one, travel to a nearby museum for day two, visit a semi-local amusement park on day three, and so forth.

2 – Let Your Children Help Choose Activities
Staying close to home is one of the best ways to save money on a summer vacation. If you plan a series of daylong vacations for the week, start close to home. Your family can sleep in their own beds each night. As you get farther away from home, book a hotel. Unfortunately, with this arrangement many parents feel like they are shortchanging their children, especially if they were used to the above mentioned faraway vacation destinations. Remember, you are operating with limited financial resources. Planning activities you can afford is more important. However, you can reduce boredom by letting your children help plan. For example, your teenage daughter can plan day two of your vacation, your ten-year-old son can help plan day three, and so forth.

3 – Give Camping a Try
If you don’t want to stay close to home, you are likely to book your airline reservations and a hotel room. Price compare to find the best deals. However, you should never pay more than $100 a night for a hotel room. This just gets too costly, especially if you are on a budget. A good and cheaper alternative is to camp. All across the country, you will find campground parks and state parks with camping accommodations. Camping rates vary greatly, but most charge no more than $25 a night!

4 – Wisely Choose Your Travel Dates
If you don’t want to stay close to home, wisely choose your travel dates. Since you are planning a summer vacation, you will find increased rates, but look at the little things. It is cheaper to vacation at the beginning or end of the summer. The middle is the most expensive. You will find higher hotel rates and fewer available rooms when there is a popular concert, sporting event, or convention in town.

5 – Don’t Wait for Last Minute Travel Deals
When it comes to finding travel deals and discounts, many mistakenly believe you should wait until the last minute. Yes, many hotels, airlines, and car rental companies offer last minute travel deals and discounts, but they are usually less common during the summer. The summer is a peak travel seasons and they rarely have problems filling planes and hotel rooms. For most, it is too risky to wait. If you are one of those individuals, plan your trip in advance, but always be on the lookout for moneysaving deals and discounts. Luckily, hotels, airlines, and car rental companies offer them all year round, not just at the last minute.