When polled last year on their summer vacation plans, fewer Americans said they planned on traveling. Those that did expect to hit the road said they were going to spend more than they did the year before, or an average of $1,798, up 11% from the previous year. It doesn’t have to be that way, and cheap summer vacations also don’t have to be chintzy. By having a strategy, travelers can save money this summer without scrimping on fun.

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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.

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.

Americans who planned to travel in 2016 said they were going to spend an average of $1,798, up 11% from 2015.1

Fly Midweek

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays can be 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, Sunday or even Monday so they can eek out a few more vacation days. 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, be sure to take into account your destination’s exchange rate and any foreign transaction fees charged by your credit cards. 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.

Become a Fan of Your Destination

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Heading to Disneyland? By “liking” the theme park’s Facebook page, or Twitter handle, you may be able to score discounts on park passes and stay abreast of discounts offered to folks who follow its feeds. This method also applies to museums and restaurants you’ll be visiting in your summer vacation destination.


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