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How To Plan a Summer Vacation on a Budget

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Summer vacation is good for the mind and the soul—overspending is not. Here are some great ideas to help you save on that much needed vacation.

1. Plan as much as you possibly can in advance.

This is a no brainer, but you want to keep in mind at all times how much booking ahead will save you ultimately. Travel experts advise to book over 45 days ahead for the best deals on hotels and airfare. Worried that hotel rates might go down if you book ahead? Don’t.

Tingo.com offers to match hotel rates if you book on their site and the hotel lowers their prices before your stay. If you have some flexibility on dates use Airfarewatchdog.com to track flight prices over certain periods of time to determine the best time to travel.

2. Don’t plan your trip during the peak of the summer season.

The bulk of travelers plan trips for the second and third weeks of August (right before back to school season), and you’ll save big if you refrain from traveling during that time frame. Travel in June for the best summer rates (particularly at seasonal destinations like the South of France) or in September when many hotels will begin to lower their rates.

3. Rethink where you are going to stay.

So you have your flights sorted, now comes the tricky part of picking a place to stay. If you are planning a trip to a major tourist destination, like London for instance, consider staying in a city close by (with easy access via public transportation) and you could end up saving a ton. Another idea? Instead of reserving a pricey hotel, why not opt to pay to stay in someone’s home? Airbnb is a great place to start that search, but other similar sites abound including FlipKey and One Fine Stay. Lastly, why not consider a home swap with someone in similar situation who also has the travel bug? Check out HomeExchange.com to look for the right opportunity.

4. Visit destinations that aren’t as popular during the summer.

Southwestern states, like Florida, see a ton of tourism in the winter, but not nearly as much during the summer. Jonesing to visit Miami? The summer could be the best time (just make sure to stay somewhere with air conditioning). The same goes for popular winter destinations like St.Barths, Tulum in Mexico, and Costa Rica.

5. Research plenty of budget activities ahead of time.

Don’t get sucked into spending a ton of money on activities at your vacation spot of choice. Instead of spending a small fortune on a visit to a zoo, for instance, visit a wildlife sanctuary. Sometimes museums will be free during certain hours, and it is good to know when ahead of time. Instead of taking a pricey walking tour, print one out online, and create a do-it-yourself version. The possibilities are endless, all it takes is some thought and planning.

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