Home > Travel > 13 Simple Ways to Save on Summer Vacation

Comments 0 Comments

Summer is nearly upon us, and you know what that means? It’s vacation time!

Well, at least for most of us. In fact, a survey last year by Orbitz revealed that nearly 80% of Americans planned to take a vacation during the summer months.

Unfortunately, some destinations are more popular than others and are almost guaranteed to come with high price tags on accommodations, not to mention large crowds.

The good news is that you can still take a decent summer vacation without breaking the bank.

1. Plan Ahead

If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and lock in those reservations to secure the lowest rates. Doing so will also grant you ample time to take care of the associated costs without having to cough up a huge wad of cash at the last minute or even worse, resort to the magic plastic to foot the bill. (See: “14 Simple Ways to Save $1,000 by Summer.”)

Can’t plan ahead? Check online for last-minute getaways, which can usually be found using BookIt.comExpediaPriceline and Orbitz. You can also check the websites of major hotel chains, such as HyattMarriott and Choice Hotels.

2. Use Rewards

Now’s the time to redeem all of the rewards you have accumulated on your credit card or customer loyalty accounts for air travel and lodging.

I’ve done this for several years with Marriott points and saved a ton of money. And in some instances, I’ve been able to earn extra nights simply for staying during select promotional periods. One summer my family and I vacationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for five days without paying a dime for lodging.

3. Avoid the Crowds

It seems like the larger the crowd, the higher the price tag. At least that’s the case here in Florida where I live. However, many snow birds migrate back to their homes in the summer months, and the prices return to normal.

Also, ask your travel agent about less-crowded alternatives to the type of vacation you desire and you’ll likely find a lower price.

4. Eat for Cheap

Search for lodging with in-room kitchens, such as Residence Inn. Also, many hotels, as well as B&Bs, include the first meal of the day in their rates.

And when you do decide to step out to grab a bite to eat, avoid the tip and extra add-ons, such as beverages and desserts, by ordering the food to go. Or make a picnic meal from items the location is noted for.

Also, check with the reservation desk in the hotel lobby and look online for coupons.

5. Vacation with Friends and Family

Why not skip the overcrowded, compact hotels and rent an entire house with a group of friends or family members? Not only is it an opportunity to spend time with those who are near and dear to you, but you will also save a ton of money with the in-home amenities while entertaining one another for free.

We do this once a year, and the highlights of the trip typically include the evening cookouts, pool parties, and competitions in the game room. What’s even better is that we usually save hundreds of dollars.

Websites to find homes include:

Some people swap their homes with others who also live in vacation destinations. Check these sites for possibilities:

6. Find Free Entertainment

If you’ve never been to the area, ask around for cheap or free entertainment ideas.

Also, take advantage of membership offers at attractions that offer discounts or free admission year-round. I visited the children’s museum in New Orleans four years ago and fell in love. Since then, we have purchased memberships and visit partnering facilities throughout the country free of charge.

7. Take a Cruise

Cruise lines, or what I like to call sailing resorts, frequently advertise promotional offers on their websites. Good possibilities for major price breaks are repositioning cruises or those after a well-publicized norovirus outbreak or mechanical breakdown.

For many people, a cruise is the perfect way to take a relaxing summer vacation without the hassle of paying extra for food, entertainment and supervised youth activities.

Add-ons, such as alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and off-shore excursions, typically come with an additional fee.

8. Pick an All-inclusive Resort

Although most resorts are not all-inclusive, those that are offer everything you need on site. You can likely get a discount on airfare if your flight is included with the deal.

One of my favorites is Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Fla., particularly because it has restaurants with delicious cuisine, a water park, kids club, shopping and daily activities on-site.

9. Consider a Staycation

A quick change of scenery may do the trick. Check out local resorts and other attractions for promotional offers. For instance, some theme parks offer special rates to in-state residents.

Staycations are a cost-efficient alternative because you can experience the vacation feel and enjoy all the extras with the money you saved by limiting the long-distance travel to your destination.

Whether you’re staying close to home or are in another city, you can further reduce costs by taking public transportation if it’s available.

10. Create an Itinerary

Without a detailed plan of what you want to do each day, you may unlock the door for unnecessary spending — for instance, ending the day in a location with only pricey hotels and expensive restaurants.

But with an itinerary, you can plan ahead and project costs before departing. When doing so, be sure to leave a little wiggle room for unforeseen circumstances, such as delays and cancellations due to inclement weather.

11. Budget!

This goes hand in hand with the itinerary. Once you determine how much money is available for the trip, set a cap and stick to it.

The travel spending plan should be broken down into categories, including transportation costs, lodging, meals, entertainment and miscellaneous expenses.

12. Road Trip

Depending on where you’re headed, it may be much cheaper to drive than to fly. Road trips take longer but can save you a ton of money. Not sure which would cost less? BeFrugal.com has a Fly or Drive Calculator.

An added plus is that gas prices are projected to remain constant this summer. Says The New York Times:

This summer season, according to the Energy Department, average gasoline prices should actually be lower than current prices and close to or slightly below those of last summer. The department’s Energy Information Administration projected on Tuesday that a gallon of regular gasoline would cost $3.57 on average nationally, down a penny from last summer.

Just make sure the vehicle you plan to travel in is in excellent mechanical condition to maximize fuel efficiency. Also, if you have kids in tow, pack snacks in a cooler and bring along car-friendly activities to save money and keep them occupied.

13. Attend a Time-share Presentation

You may have to sit through a two-hour sales pitch, but it is well worth it in the end because you’ll get to experience a premium resort at a rock-bottom rate. Also, you may even receive additional incentives for your time.

Just keep up your guard and don’t purchase a time share. (See: “Ask Stacy: How Can I Get Out of My Time Share Without Being Robbed?“)

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team