Summer Vacation on a Budget – Save Money on Vocation and Road Trips

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ben Joven

Summertime is normally the season that families plan and take that annual road trip of vacation, unfortunately a lot of households are temporarily postponing their trips due to the fact that the economy is still not fully recovered, gas prices are still a bit high and the US unemployment rate is still around 9%. For some of us those things will not stop us from moving forward with our vacation plans but we still may be a little more frugal when it comes to our holiday than in previous years. This article will give you some great summer time, frugal vacation tips so you can stay within budget and not break the bank this summer.

The summer time is a great time to go on a vacation, especially if you’re vacationing within the US, the weather in most places around the country is very pleasant and there are a lot of places around here that are downright awesome when it comes to activities and weather. Normally cities like Seattle are cold and rainy but in the summer months there’s not too many places that can beat a Seattle summer. If you are looking for ways to save money this summer while on vacation keep reading.

Saving Money on Road Trips

• Find the cheapest gas: One of my favorite little applications on my iPhone is “Gas Buddy”, by using this useful app it uses your geographical location and finds the cheapest gas within a 10-20 mile radius, super useful when you’re looking for gas. A few cents a gallon may not mean much but it will make a difference on your bottom line if you’re filling up multiple times during your road trip.

• Plan your stops: I’m sure most people are going to be well prepared for their upcoming road trip but one thing that many people miss is planning your stops. If you plan your stops and find locations where you can stop and snack or stop for a restaurant you’re less likely to just stop randomly and eating too often.

• Pack sacks: A trip to the grocery store is going to be a lot cheaper in the long run than purchasing food at an AM/PM or a restaurant, so stock up!

• Car maintenance: If your tires are deflated, or your air filter needs changing, or your gas filter is bad that is dramatically affect your cars performance and gas mileage. Make sure you take your car to your local mechanic or run maintenance checks yourself and check if you’re car is running smoothly.

• Stay for free: It’s the summer time so the weather is fine and warm take advantage of the pleasant weather by utilizing free camp sites on your road trip. It’s going to be a lot cheaper than staying at a hotel.

• Join AAA: This service may cost you $20 a month but it will save you a ton of money in the long run if your car breaks down or runs out of gas on some desolate, country highway.

Saving Money on Vacation

• Sign up for group buying sites: By now everyone’s heard of Groupon, or Living Social, and if you haven’t you should really sign up, make sure you sign up for places that your are visiting and enjoy steep discounts on things like restaurants, activities, and movie tickets.

• Stay with family or friends: Staying with Uncle Harry’s house may not be the Four Seasons but you can’t be the price.

• Go camping: Nothing beats the great outdoors so consider camping on your next trip!

• Vacation with a group or another family: Hey, if you can travel with another family, that’s a whole another group of people that can help, absorbs the costs of the vacation.

• Rent an RV: You should do the math, but renting a RV is sometimes cheaper than purchasing a plane ticket, renting a car, and getting hotel accommodations.

For the people that aren’t going to postpone their summer vacations due to the economy these tips will hopefully save you quite a bit. If you are planning on staying at home for the summer, there’s always the “stay-cation”, which is basically keeping your vacation local e.g., if you live in San Diego, taking a vacation in Laguna Beach, Orange County for a weekend, which is basically a 1 ½ hour drive.The most important thing to do, regardless if you’re going on vacation or not, are to stay cool this summer and have fun! Hey if you can peel the kids away from the video games for a few hours and have fun playing on the slip n’ slide and sprinklers on the front lawn than maybe you don’t need a vacation!

About author: Ben Joven is a media consultant for a credit counseling organization, and works with a group of credit counselors and personal finance experts.

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