11 Rules for a Cheap Summer Vacation
Plan a memorable and relaxing week by taking advantage of this year's deals and steals
After years of staycations and frugal road trips, Americans appear ready to spend a little more on summer fun -- as long as they're still landing good deals. Top destinations include countries that have slashed their prices, domestic cities considered less desirable to foreign tourists, and old-fashioned, multi-family beach houses.
"People are a little more comfortable this year spending money for vacation, but they're still holding onto their wallets," says
If you're still looking for the perfect summer getaway, here are 11 strategies to consider:
Collaborate with friends.
Liola recommends renting a large beach house with a group of friends to split the cost. Since beach (and lake) houses can often accommodate multiple families, this method often reduces the cost significantly, she says.
Pay for the trip in advance.
Saving up for a vacation ahead of time is the best way to make sure it doesn't end up on a credit card, says Liola. She urges her clients to make a plan for the following year at the end of each summer, when all the costs of an August getaway are still fresh in their minds. "Whatever the amount is, they should save on a monthly basis throughout the year, so come summer, they've already saved up for the vacation and just have to factor in gas prices," she says.
It's not the most flattering acronym, but it's the one analysts have settled on to describe the European countries struggling most with debt. The term stands for
Still, McGinnis adds, transatlantic flights are expensive right now, usually starting at around
Popular coastal cities such as
Find a promo.
Since resorts and hotels know Americans are still hesitant to part with their cash, they're sweetening deals with discounts and deals. AAA members, for example, can get 20 percent discounts at
Don't forget about cruises.
Like other all-inclusive packages, cruises help travelers anticipate costs and allow them to pay for meals and lodging together. They also give passengers the freedom to be more active and take advantage of the many programs and tours offered in ports, or be more relaxed and spend time at the pool or spa.
Make it a working holiday.
Volunteering for part of the trip and staying in a resort for the remainder of it can be a way to cut costs and contribute to local communities, says Liola. Opportunities range from building houses to visiting hospices. (Seniors can find domestic volunteer opportunities through the government site www.seniorcorps.gov.) Families with young children can also combine trips with visits that tie into school-year lessons, such as local Civil War battlefields or former presidents' homes.
Wait to upgrade.
If you are intent on the honeymoon suite, waiting is a risky strategy. Otherwise, booking the lowest-price room or vehicle and then upgrading on the spot can lead to better deals. "This is not a guarantee, but something to consider," says Liola.
Cash in on rewards.
If you're due for a payout from your credit card issuer in the form of cash back, gift cards, or airline miles, that payout can be used to fund your summer vacation. Many card issuers offer extra discounts on rewards offered through retail partners, which means you can often get even bigger rewards by using gift cards or airline miles.
Bring your own everything.
Packing your own snacks, water bottles, and even a bike can reduce daily expenses on the road. Anyone traveling by air, however, will want to adopt the opposite strategy, since many airlines now charge to check bags.
Don't pay through the nozzle.
Getting gas in the morning when gas is cooler and more dense, earning gas savings through a grocery loyalty card, and driving at steady speeds are a few ways to maximize your gas mileage, suggests travel expert
The bottom line: With a little advance planning, summer travelers can land wallet-friendly deals. Happy vacationing!
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