How to Plan Your Summer Vacation on a Budget

Summer is less than a month away! If you haven’t made plans for your summer vacation, then you need to start planning. First, you’re going to need a budget and know how much you want to spend. American Express Travel surveyed 2,000 adults about their summer vacation plans as part of its Spending & Saving Tracker survey. They found that the average family plans to spend $4,000 on their summer vacation, which is approximately $1,000 per person.

Just because Americans plan on taking much-needed vacations this year doesn’t mean that they’ve thrown savings out the window. There are several ways that these adults are planning to cut back on their vacation expenses:

Save on Summer Vacay

One out of four Americans will be using sites like Fat Wallet to find the best deals on airfare, car rentals, cruises, hotels, luggage, restaurants, excursions and all-in-one travel packages. So how much can you save? Here are just some of the deals that you can find in the Coupon and Cash Back section:

Save on Summer Vacay2

However, discounts aren’t the only way to save on your vacation. With a little bit of planning, you can save more on your vacation. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your summer vacation:

• Book Early or Be Flexible – Sometimes you can get lucky and find that 75% deal on the destination of your choice, but those opportunities are rare and last minute. If your vacation dates aren’t flexible, it’s important to plan ahead.

• Pre-Pay to Save – Many hotels are offering an “advance purchase” rate to travelers who are willing to pay for their vacation in advance. But remember, you’re giving up flexibility for that price. If something happens last minute that forces you to change your plans, you won’t be getting a refund.

• Little Extras Add Up – The cost of Internet isn’t going to make or break your vacation, but if you’re waffling between two hotels, take a moment to review their amenities. Free Wi-Fi Internet, continental breakfasts, and unlimited gym access might tip the scale of where you choose to stay.

• Review What’s Included – If you opt to get a vacation package, make sure you understand what is and is not included in the package. For example, if you take a cruise, you might find yourself paying a 15% gratuity on alcohol/drink purchases. There might be port fees and taxes if you want to leave the boat. Or if you need to fly to the port where the ship is leaving, airfare might be extra.

• Mix Free with Fees – Try to alternate your paid activities with free stuff that you’ve researched in advanced. Most states have tourism sites that have free events or attractions for families. With just a little bit of planning, you can cut back on your excursions/activities costs.

If you can’t decide where you want to go this summer, USA Today did the research and found the Top 5 Bargain Destinations for Summer 2010. I don’t know about you, but a trip to Ireland definitely sounds like a great destination vacation.

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