Enjoy your summer vacation even on a tight budget

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By: KellySpors
on 7th Jul,2015

Just because your finances are stretched thin doesn't mean you have to cancel your family's summer vacation. Airfare and gas prices are up this year.
Enjoy your summer vacation even on a tight budget

Just because your finances are stretched thin doesn't mean you have to cancel your family's summer vacation. Some planning tricks and online resources that can help you plan a summer trip on the cheap - and still get the relaxation and together time you want.

Here are some pointers :

Stick close to home. Airfare and gas prices are up this year. If you live in the Midwest, consider visiting scenic spots near home, such as along the Great Lakes. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic states, head to the Jersey Shore. Check out local tourism websites and travel research websites such as Fodors.com. You might be surprised. Also consider a "staycation," and consider spending your vacation at home while checking out local amusement parks, restaurants, museums and other attractions that your family maybe hasn't had time to enjoy. One tip: Make sure to write an itinerary, just as you would if you went away. This helps make sure you don't fall into the old routines and makes it feel more vacation-like.

Find gasoline deals.If you hit the road, search for the gas stations along the route that have the best prices. Gas-price research website GasBuddy.com now has a downloadable "app" that you can download to your smartphone. Another app: Local Gas Prices. Both use the GPS technology in your phone to list the cheapest gas stations in the vicinity of wherever you happen to be.

Get hotel discounts. Want to stay a few nights wherever you are going? There are plenty of online resources for finding hotel deals. With its "name your own price" feature, Priceline.com can be especially helpful when staying in larger cities. There are also aggregator sites such as BookingBuddy.com that allow you to search multiple sites such as Hotwire.com and Travelocity.com at once. Use TripAdvisor to look up hotel reviews in order to make sure that whatever deal you're getting is not too good to be true.

Get creative on lodging. Why stay at a hotel when there's somebody with a nice home who's going to be away - and willing to let you rent for a few days? Not only might you get a great place to stay for a reasonable price, but you save money cooking meals in the owners' kitchen. There are now a bunch of websites - including HomeAway.com, VacationRentals.com and Airbnb.com - that can help you search for vacation rentals. Another option might be to rough it and go camping. ReserveAmerica can help you search for camping sites and availability, and even allow you to reserve a spot in some cases. GoCampingAmerica.com is another option.

Grab a daily deal. Whether it's a balloon ride or a stay at a nice hotel, so-called "daily deal" websites can provide fodder for a great outing or vacation. A month or so before your vacation, sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial, and AmazonLocal in whatever location you're planning to travel to. Another website -- Yipit.com - actually enables you to aggregate online-deal offers. Other travel-deal sites provide big discounts on hotel packages in various U.S. and foreign destinations. Check out JetSetter, LivingSocial Escapes and TravelZoo. Another handy trick is to do a Google search for a particular restaurant or attraction's name and then the word "coupon."

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