Saving Money on Summer Vacations

Don’t miss out on traveling to the destination of your dreams just because your travel budget may be a little tighter than you’d like. There are lots of ways for you to maximize your budget and take that long-awaited break. Read on for some creative ways to reduce the cost of your trip!

To save for vacation, look to where you're already making strides saving money: your savings account. Leverage your savings account with automatic transfers so that saving money happens without having to lift a finger beyond the few minutes it takes to setup a transfer in your online banking.

Use Your Savings Account

money: your savings account. Leverage your savings account with automatic transfers so that saving money happens without having to lift a finger beyond the few minutes it takes to setup a transfer in your online banking.

Go Beyond Hotels

As nice as it is, there's no swifter way to rack up the bills than room service and posh hotels. and other vacation rental services offer a host of international options for renting from owners all around the world. They also can mean big savings on accommodations. Eating out three meals a day for a week can kill a budget: the full kitchens that come with villa rentals can save some serious money.

Sign Up For Fare Alerts

It's not a pesky email if it saves you several hundred dollars, is it? Sign up online for cheap fare alerts to stay informed of fare drops and bargain buys. If you're wary of spam, create a new email address just for these alerts and check periodically. When fares drop for the destination you're interested in, jump in and save!

Fly vs. Drive

The cost of gas is high, inflating summer airfare as well as the routine fill up at your local station. Generally speaking, if you're traveling less than 250-300 miles, taking the car is more economical than flying, especially if you are a carpooling family of four or more. Once you get beyond this range, however, the landscape changes. Now you also have to factor in time and convenience considerations. For a creative option, consider checking out Greyhound or Amtrak offer further cost-saving alternatives — train travel especially leaves plenty of time for fun family bonding and games that a car or bus just doesn't allow.

Cruise Your Way to Savings

With many cruise lines over-built and under-booked, a floating holiday has arguably never been this attractive to bargain hunters. However, caveat emptor: nothing is free on a cruise. Accordingly, if you have space bring anything you might need: medicine, batteries, books, games, etc. Book shore excursions yourself. If you shop, don't expect bargains near the pier. Finally, you may even be able to BYOB if the cruise line allows it. Generally, book very early or very late for the best savings.

House Swap

Lodgings are often the single largest expense for extended holidays. Growing in popularity are online networks that help match those wishing to either exchange homes for vacation purposes or organize reciprocal hosting arrangements. Want to swap your beach house in Florida for a flat in London's Chelsea district? For a small membership fee, sites like and share thousands of listings throughout the world, allowing intrepid travelers to save enormous amounts of money while truly living like a local.

Paris Out, New Orleans In?

If you're tired of hearing about the virtues of "staycations," you're probably not the only one. But the realities of tighter budgeting don't have to mean you lose out on culture, a change of scene and fun. Look local for drivable destinations instead of overseas journeys, and you can realize large savings by avoiding the airlines. For distinctive culture, regional destinations like Memphis, St. Louis, Nashville, Charleston, Miami, Orlando and of course, New Orleans, offer great diversity of attractions and local color.

Strong Dollar, Will Travel

If London or Barcelona still beckons, check the pound and euro against the dollar to see how far your greenback will take you. If you're willing to expand your horizons, look for destinations where the dollar is strong. Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Morocco, Malaysia and India are just a few places where tourism costs are much lower than in the United States or Europe — of course, be sure to check the U.S. Department of State for travel advisories.

Travel Out of Season

It goes without saying that the reason it's called "in" is because everyone wants or needs to travel during that time. Thus, higher costs. Flexibility might not be a great option for parents with school age children Travel to the Caribbean or Mexico in mid-April to late fall and save 20-50 percent, even in luxury hotels. Try Colorado in the late spring or summer when hotels and resorts lose tourists and offer great packages and discounts. Europeans tend to travel in August, so mid-September when they are back to work is a good time to look for deals. Avoid holidays and pack light — airlines are charging for everything nowadays, it seems.

Be Flexible

Finally, be honest with yourself: are you a traveler or a tourist? Are you and your traveling compatriots comfortable with the unknown or do you want everything sorted and planned long before you depart? Do you prefer to bundle airfare, lodgings and car rental or do you want to take care of these details individually as you go? Do you need to know where you're heading long in advance or can you pack a bag and hit the road in a matter of days? The more flexible you are, the more savings opportunities you'll find.

Finally, don't overlook the tools you already have at your disposal to save for vacation. Leverage your savings account to get the most from your money.


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