Summers can be as stressful on the family budget as the holydays at the end of the year, sometimes even more, but with a little planning and a lot of creativity you can have the vacation of your life without breaking the bank. Sometimes, even without leaving the house.

1.- Chose early your destination.  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 desired destination. You will get e-mails in your computer or smartphone 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 experiencing and adventure. All national parks have special areas for campers, some offer small cabins for a reasonable fee, if you don't want to sleep in a tent and find electricity and running water a must, even in the woods.  Check out the site www.nationalparks.com  for ideas and information.

3. Stay with family and friends.  Hotels tend to take a big chunk of the vacation budget, so it is better to avoid them when you can. When staying with loved ones 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 make 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 re-filling water bottle. This will not only keep avoid dehydration, but will save money on drinks. Check online for coupons for restaurants.  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, we did 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?

Image via Thinkstock

About the author

Alicia Civita lives in Florida, with her Argentinian husband, her two boys, 7 and 10 years old, her two rescued pit bulls, a parrot, and a red bearded lizard. She has lived and written from Caracas, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and New York, among other cities. Since becoming a mom she has learned to sew, craft, and play videogames. She dreams with hosting a party with all of her Facebook friends.

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Jeann...

We will definietly be doing a staycation this summer!

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