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How to Afford Your Summer Vacation Ideas

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I have a confession to make; I am getting stir crazy and am starting to look for summer vacation ideas as we charge towards springtime. I don’t know if it’s because I am not getting out of the house as much since I am now self-employed or if it’s because we love to travel but I find myself thinking often about where we can go for summer vacation this year.

My family almost always took a summer vacation when I was growing up and I can still remember looking forward to it through the long, cold winter months. We generally drove to our vacation destinations, though that has become increasingly difficult as we have seen a rise in gas prices lately. Not all summer vacation ideas have to be expensive though and with a little homework you can plan a great vacation that will not bust your budget.

Plan Ahead if You Have a Specific Summer Vacation in Mind

If you have a growing family, like we do, planning ahead is vital when it comes to planning your summer vacation. I often start planning for our vacation during the winter, partially as a means to escape the winter blahs, but also to give me time to see what I should be expecting in terms of pricing. Last year we knew that we wanted to go to Minnesota for our summer vacation. My Dad was going to be visiting us and was going to help with the kids. This also meant we could stop and visit our family farm which is in very north central part of Iowa. By planning far ahead it allows you more time to choose if you do not have a specific vacation destination in mind, plus it also allows you to be more selective about prices, which helps you to see if your summer vacation ideas are realistic or not.

Be Flexible With Your Summer Vacation Ideas

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation over the weekend? It gives you something to look forward to throughout the week and you also could possibly take less vacation days off from work. However, many summer vacation destinations might have higher rates on the weekend which can put a crimp on your style and your budget.

When we went on our summer vacation last year we traveled during the week as it saved us almost $50 per night on our hotel stay. This also works if you’re looking to fly as often times flights can be significantly cheaper if you fly on specific weekdays.

If a hotel is not in your summer vacation ideas, you can also look at possibly renting a house or staying at a bed and breakfast or your trip. We have not done the former ourselves, but would definitely consider it in the future as you generally can get lower prices and also get more amenities not available at a hotel. I know there are other ways to be able to make your summer vacation more affordable; the key is to think outside of the box in order to make your trip a reality.

Last Minute Travel Deals Could Be a Good Option

If it’s the middle of July and you still have not planned your summer vacation, don’t fret because you can also possibly take advantage of last minute travel deals. Most readers are probably aware of all the big travel sites like Travelocity, Hotwire and Priceline that can be very helpful with your summer vacation ideas. They all have their pros and cons, but the nice thing is that if you know you want to go somewhere for vacation, but have not taken the time to plan it out then it is possible to find some last minute travel deals.

If you do go this route though, make sure to read the fine print so you’re aware of the terms and conditions as well as the cancellation policy. One other option I’ve found to have worked is contacting the hotel you specifically want to stay at and see if they have any rooms left for the time you’re going. It doesn’t always work, but have had times where the front desk will give a better rate thanks to them wanting to fill the rooms.

Stay Local if Cost is a Factor

If your summer vacation ideas are restricted by a limited budget, you can still have fun without traveling far. If you live in a big enough city then a staycation could be possible. We have done this in the past as there are numerous things in our city that we’ve not seen or done and would like to do. From sites we’d like to go see to restaurants the kids like to go to we can easily have fun for the week while still being budget conscious.

If a staycation is not your cup of tea, you could also possibly look at day trips as an option for your summer vacation ideas. Living in the Midwest we can easily get to a number of nice places to visit within several hours of driving time. We’ve also found that we like taking day trips as it allows us to get out of town while not spending a whole lot of money to do so. Another way to spin cost is to use credit card rewards points, like through the Discover card to help mitigate the overall cost of your trip.

 

What are your summer vacation ideas for this year? Do you have anywhere fun or exciting you’re going?

 

Photo courtesy of: Nicole Schmoll

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally

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