7 smart money saving tips for your summer vacation

Smart Travel Savings Tips to Stretch Your Summer Vacation Budget

No matter how far you are from home, time off is time off. Escaping from your job, taking a break from household responsibilities and skipping other mundane maintenance required for everyday life is rejuvenating. I've compiled a list of money-saving ideas to help plan your travel for recreation whether you're staying 60 miles away or right in your own home.

1. Act touristy.

If a staycation is the route you're taking this year and you are literally sleeping in your own bed, the money you don't spend on lodging can go toward more lavish activities. Explore your own area like a tourist would. Check search engines to see what you can do in your region. Try out a fancy restaurant, go kayaking or head to the beach in another part of your state.

2. Get a heads up on saving clips for your trip.

Though still in beta, Tripcipe.com promises to keep all of your online travel research saved in one spot. It can also plot out locations for you on Google Maps. Go to Tripcipe.com and get on the list for updates. Plan to install a plug-in on Google Chrome which creates an icon for your toolbar. This icon allows you to gather up all the exciting things you want to do on your vacation.

3. Have others plan your trip.

They say the devil is in the details and for some, planning the details seems like drudgery. If you're aiming to relax in a certain area but aren't quite sure what to do when you're there, check in on what other travelers have done before. If their activities sound interesting, mimic their itinerary. This can be helpful if you are new to a location and don't know where start. You can at least have an outline of ideas at the ready even if your plans change. Check forums, travel blogs, message boards and apps including Yelp and TripIt.

4. Ask for a discount on lodging.

Is there a nice area close by where you've always wanted to stay for a few days but couldn't justify the expense? If you're enjoying summer close to home this year, this year might be the perfect time to do so. You can still spend less than you would by looking into Airbnb. John Rampton of johnrampton.com explains that if you plan your staycation three to four months in advance, you can typically message the hosts and request a steep discount. Having served as a host himself, Rampton knows firsthand that booking more days can work to your wallet's advantage. He adds that he'd rather have a person stay for two to three weeks at $50 per night less than his original price versus someone staying for one night at full price.

5. Bring an extra set of toiletries.

If you give yourself enough time, you can buy these items in advance and wait to find the best deals. It makes life easier when you get home, too, especially if you don't like to unpack as soon as you get back. This way you can still find essential items in their place when you arrive. You can refuel your extra set when you get home at your leisure and it will be one less thing to do before your next trip.

6. Go the distance on vacation at a discount.

Lauren Greutman of Iamthatlady.com suggests looking into VRBO.com. This site allows you to rent a vacation home directly from the owner. Cutting out the middleman can have its advantages for your wallet. Greutman also explains that you can negotiate prices, too. "We got a beach house directly on the beach for only $1,700 this year. We are splitting it two ways with my sister and her family," she says.

While searching for all-inclusive vacations, Casey Fleming, website owner at LoanGuide.com, scored a steep discount by looking on Bookit.com. Touristy accommodations can also be tourist traps. If you don't mind staying where the locals stay, this technique can work to your wallet's advantage.

7. Have kids eat free.

If you're traveling far with children or staying close to home, Kendal Perez, a savings expert at CouponSherpa.com, believes you shouldn't have to pay a pretty penny to eat. "Just because you're staying in your hometown doesn't mean you should pay a premium for food during your activities," she says. Searching for restaurants that offer special deals for the kids can help your budget.

There are many ways to spend less on summer vacation. Take advantage of the tips mentioned when traveling near or far.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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