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How to Budget for Cheap Summer Vacations

Last Updated: April 12, 2022
4 min read

Let’s Learn About: Cheap Summer Vacations

  1. To plan a summer vacation on a budget, keep an eye out for discount airfare and lodging

  2. Cheaper vacations are all about finding the right locations and deals

  3. When it comes to budget locations, don’t be afraid to try something new

Summer, the most common time to vacation for families, doesn’t have to be the season to drain your wallet. Cheap summer vacations don’t have to be chintzy if you take advantage of strategies to plan a vacation on a budget.

How to plan a vacation on a budget

While a lot of vacationers want their trip to provide luxuries or experiences they couldn’t find at home, that doesn’t mean they have to break the bank to have a memorable adventure. Planning a cheap summer vacation on a budget is all about finding tiny ways to save while still spending quality time with your family. Some vacation budgeting tips apply year-round, and others are more specific to summer vacations.

Budget ideas for family vacations

Fly into regional airports

By booking tickets to and from regional airports, you can sometimes find cheaper airfare, as well as spend less time in check-in and security lines. Flyers just need to be cognizant of all related expenses — such as baggage costs, additional cab fares to get you to your destination and airport-specific fees — before going this route. By putting the purchase on a travel credit card, you can also earn rewards on your spending to help offset future travel costs, as well.

Skip the hotel and opt for a home instead

By booking a private home or apartment, you often get more space for the same amount or less money than you would spend on a hotel room. This option also lets you save money on meals since you can cook at home, as well as on entertainment — especially for families traveling together who might take advantage of homes with a pool or large outside gathering area for al fresco summer dining and barbecues.

Fly midweek

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often the cheapest days to fly. Chalk it up to supply and demand: more folks want to maximize their weekends, preferring to fly on a Friday or Sunday. As a result, the airlines lower prices to fill seats on the days when there isn’t as much demand.

Be aware of exchange rates

If you are traveling internationally and are booking your travel relatively close to the date you’ll be on the road, take into account your destination’s exchange rate. You may get a great deal on a flight to and from Paris, but if the euro is strong against the dollar, you’ll end up shelling out more than you expected for food and entertainment. A better option might be another country with a currency on par with the value of the dollar.

Cheap summer vacations might be in alternative spots

In many parts of the world, there are just-as-good areas close to popular getaway destinations that are a fraction of the price but offer similar amenities and attractions. Take Santa Barbara, for example. Visitors flock to this seaside town north of Los Angeles for its tranquil beauty, walk-able downtown and access to hiking trails. But by staying just a 14-minute drive up the coast in Goleta, visitors can access the same hiking areas, and enjoy the same coastline and similar family-friendly amenities, as its more expensive neighbor to the south. These are all cheap vacation ideas that are worth considering.

Cheap vacation ideas just for summer

Check out the national parks for affordable summer vacations

Fans of outdoor adventures will find an affordable vacation option in the national parks. Great views and activities rival any luxurious getaway you can find, and most parks offer affordable admission fees. Whether it’s Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, or one of the hundreds of other options, national parks offer a cheap summer vacation the whole family can enjoy.

For a budget summer vacation, try the water park

If you take a summer vacation in a hot climate, visiting a water park can help your family enjoy an affordable vacation. They’re fun for all ages, and they give you a chance to beat the summer heat.

What’s even better is if you add in a waterpark visit to a camping or road trip vacation. That way, you get the best of the outdoors and the theme parks without stepping outside your spending limit.

Free summer entertainment

With warmer weather, many arts organizations offer free outdoor entertainment. Look for summer entertainment listings on the government website for the parks department in the location you’re visiting.

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