Saving Money on Summer Vacation

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The main cost considerations when planning a vacation are transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment.

Starting with location, where you go can be a huge factor in the cost of the trip. A shopping trip to New York would be much different than camping in a State park. In fact, Hagan says some people are opting for adventure travel (hiking, biking, kayaking) and others for family vacations closer to home.

Transportation can also be a huge cost, depending on the mode and where you go. If you're flying to Russia, it will be very expensive. If you're driving to Panama City, not so much, said Hagan. In today's economy, with budgets tighter, many folks are opting for destinations within one day's driving distance. Hagan advises, if you are flying, go online and shop for flights well in advance; you may get a great discount.

Lodging is another cost that can vary quite a bit. You can shop online for hotels and sometimes you can get a better deal calling the individual hotel direct. Hagan says to ask if they have any specials and when quoted a rate, ask if there's any way they can do a little better. Renting a home for a week, possibly going on vacation with another family your close to and splitting that expense.

There are lots of ways to save on food. If you rent a hotel suite with a kitchen or a home, Hagan says, you can cook meals instead of eating at restaurants. If not, consider having your big restaurant meal of the day at lunch instead of dinner, when prices are generally lower. If driving, pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, snacks.

Lastly, entertainment expenses could vary greatly. However, some destinations have built in entertainment. If you're at the beach, for example, you have a host of free activities right outside the door. If you prefer entertainment parks, look for coupons and specials.

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