It’s that time again – the time during which your mind begins to wander while at work and you start thinking about finding some shade on some exotic beach and stretching out in a hammock with a cold beverage in your hand.

by Bryce Edwards via Flickr

Truth is, if you have not started planning your summer vacation yet, then your ability to cash in on all of the best ways to save money will be limited, but still, there are some things that you can do to cut costs without infringing on your relaxation and enjoyment. Here are six great tips to save you some money on your upcoming summer vacation and to help you save even more money when planning next year’s getaway.

Book and pay as far in advance as possible

It might be too late now for this year’s vacation, but once this vacation is over and done with, start saving up for the next one immediately and try to plan it out and book it as soon as possible. The sooner you start saving up, the smaller the chances are that you will be putting the brunt of your vacation costs on your credit card.

Also, the earlier you book your trip, the better your chances are on cashing in on some great savings. By paying for everything well before the summer, you can potentially save hundreds on flights, hotels and everything else related to the vacation. Many travel agencies give huge discounts for people who book their trips well ahead of time, because early bookings make their jobs a lot easier as well.

Consider off-season vacation periods

If you have already decided that your vacation needs to take place on some kind of a beach, a good way to save money is to avoid going during the peak of the summer season. Usually going before mid-June or after August is a good way to not only save money, but avoid crowds as well.

Don’t worry about it not being warm enough if you are going to some sub-tropic destination, it will be plenty warm. If you are planning your vacation earlier, in May or June, just make sure that you are avoiding the big holidays. Traveling during Memorial Day or Independence Day will not give you the most bang for your buck.

Don’t miss out on all potential rewards

You would be surprised at how many people do not take advantage of rewards and gifts offer by their credit card companies. By keeping track of what your credit card company is offering to you for your dedicated use of their plastic, you will be able to capitalize on great cash back offers, airline miles, and tons of other discounts that can be used to save you a pretty penny on your vacation.

Book your vacation collaboratively

Booking a vacation with some friends or family is a great way to save money. If you have a larger group of people, you can always rent out an apartment or a house for your vacation, which will end up costing you a lot less than booking a hotel room for you and your significant other. You can find great deals on vacation rentals by owners on Craigslist and a bunch of other sites. However, before considering such an option, be sure that you are inviting friends or family members that you can stand living with for a week or two without wanting to strangle them!

Look into spots that are hidden treasures

Getting creative and traveling off the beaten path can save you money without sacrificing any of the fun. You don’t have to vacation at all the regular spots that everyone goes to all the time, do some research and find a new and exciting place to go that isn’t so tourist-dependent.

Instead of heading to the coasts, check out some great lakes or mountains. Enjoy a nice relaxing week camping or in a luxury cabin instead of on the beach. Check out a big city you have never gone to before that isn’t too big of a summer vacation spot. All of these cities will probably have great hotels available for even better prices with big pools and tons of activities for you and your family within the general vicinity. Break out of your old routine and visit a new and exciting place at least every other year.

Bring anything and everything you can from home

If you are taking a road trip, then make sure to pack as much food and beverages as you can at home, because this will save you a lot of money. People don’t realize how much cheaper it is to buy all your food and drinks at a local supermarket than spending money on snacks and drinks at every gas station you stop at.

This isn’t really an option when you are flying, however, because you are trying to carry as little as possible to make sure you aren’t paying any extra money for baggage. Of course it is very tempting to eat out every single night when you are on vacation, but staying in will save you a lot of money. There are plenty of easy-to-make meals that you can whip up in no time when on vacation – fruit salads, submarine sandwiches, nachos – and save money in the process. But if you are really intent on dining out every night, at least stay out of the restaurants for breakfast and lunch and enjoy some granola bars and fruit instead.

Saving money on vacations does not have to mean cutting down on your enjoyment. If you plan intelligently and think ahead, you should be able to pull off a fun and relaxing vacation for you and your loved ones regardless of budgetary restraints.

David Lazar is a blogger at With a background in journalism, he enjoys writing about and following a variety of topics, including careers, creative writing and new media.

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