Summer vacations can be stressful when you're on a budget. A little planning and a lot of creativity can work in your favor to a vacation that won't break the bank.
1. Choose your destination early. If your plans include air travel, make sure you buy your tickets at least a month and a half before your departure date. Try to travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. As a rule, tickets are cheaper those days. Also, three months before, subscribe to your favorite airline or travel sites and set up alerts based on your destination. You will get e-mails with the lowest fares. Websites like www.Kayak.com consolidate information from at least five travel sites.
2. Consider a camping trip. Some of the best family memories are created when you are on an adventure. All national parks have special areas for campers. Some even offer small cabins for a reasonable fee, if you don't want to sleep in a tent, want electricity and running water. Check out the site www.nationalparks.com for ideas and information.
3. Stay with family and friends. Hotel prices can really add up, so why not avoid them when you can? When staying with family make sure to contribute with groceries, offer to help with the chores, and cook at least one of the nights. If free lodging is not an option, choose a hotel has free parking, wi-fi, and breakfast. Look for bedrooms with at least a coffee maker and a microwave. Some of the best deals can be found on www.priceline.com and www.hotels.com
4. Eat out as little as possible. Pack snacks and meals to take with you when possible. A picnic is often more fun for children than a meal in a restaurant. Give every member of your family a water bottle they can refill. This will not only avoid dehydration, but will save money on drinks. Check online for restaurant coupons. www.restaurants.com is a great source to find coupons and discounts. You only need to splurge on a nice dinner the day before the last day of your vacation. Studies have discovered that what happens that day sets the tone for the memories for the whole experience.
5. A stayacation may be the best idea. You can stretch your vacation fund to the max if you stay at home and take day trips. You can research online for summer events near your home. If you live in a small town, expand the search to nearby towns and cities. Become a member of the town pool. Explore your area like a tourist. I am sure you will discover places you did not know about. Create a summer project that involves the whole family. One summer, my kids and I made an illustrated book about 20 different playgrounds we visited. Another time, we made a powerpoint presentation about the insects that lived around our backyard. Check out sites like www.livingsocial.com and www.groupon.com for great deals on activities.
Whether you travel or stay at home we hope you have the best time. Don't forget to let us know how it went. Do you have more tricks on how to save on your vacation?