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Planning a Frugal Summer Getaway

By: Joshua Unseth-- 2010-03-19 5:00 am --

For most of us, summer is the perfect time to get away from it all. As we all work to tighten our belts, vacation doesn't have to be on the chopping block, at least not entirely. Vacations can be expensive, but remember that hypertension and burn-out are even more so. You don't have to cut out your vacation entirely, but you can vacation a little smarter and save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

*First, plan ahead. Winter is the best time to start thinking about your summer getaway. This allows for the best budget decisions and helps ensure that your expectations are realistic. Not only is it wise to be prepared, it can really liven your mood in the mid-winter doldrums to make concrete plans for fun in the sun in the months ahead.

*Take advantage of off-peak times. If you're planning to fly or stay in a hotel, you'll find that it can be well worth it to stay away from the holiday weekends and weekends in general. The early weekdays of Monday and Tuesday are great days to fly or book a hotel at the best price.

*Do your homework.The Internet is a great resource for low rates on everything from dining to accommodations, complete with user reviews and precise map locations. Don't be afraid, however, to get away from the computer. Your family and friends can be excellent resources on good places to go, the best deals, and ways to vacation for less. All you've got to do is ask.

*Be fearless in asking for discounts. There are a whole variety of ways to get travel deals for less on every basis imaginable. AAA, AARP, and a whole host of organizations offer a variety of travel discounts. Be sure to ask about any discounts, coupons, or other deals that might apply when you do your booking. Overcoming your pride could save you plenty. After all, the worst thing they can say is "no".

*Budget for everything, even little things, and stick to it like glue. A great way to do this is to leave the debit card and credit cards at home and bring cash instead. It's wise to wear a money pouch to evade pickpockets, but having cash helps you keep better track of how much you spend, and on what. Paying cash is so much more fun than using credit because you're free of worry over the size of your statement the following month, allowing you to fully enjoy yourself.

*Start buying things now. You know you'll need things like camera batteries, sunscreen, maybe even a new swimsuit. When you plan ahead you can defray the costs over time and be well-prepared when the time comes.

*Avoid the crowds. Try something different than your usual, popular destinations. These are often cheaper options and add an element of adventure to your vacation.

What have you done to save money on your vacation?