These days, everything costs more. Gas, groceries, clothes and rental car costs seem to be skyrocketing. And airfare, don't forget about airfare.
With everything getting more expensive, you might be thinking that family summer vacation is out of the question. But planning ahead, creating a budget and sticking to your guns can make a vacation more affordable than you think–and you'll save money while still having a blast.
Here are five ways for you to have a wonderful vacation–even while sticking to a tight budget:
Know how much you have to spend
You can't possibly know where you might be able to vacation unless you know exactly how much money you have to spend on airfare, hotels, rental cars and food. The first step to vacationing on a budget is to know–with precision–what your budget is.
After you've budgeted, start looking for airfare as soon as possible. Many airlines will let you book flights up to six months in advance of your trip. This is good news because more often than not, the earlier you book your flight, the more you save.
Consider off-peak seasons
Everyone wants to go to Mexico during spring break, so why not head down in October or November? The crowds will be smaller, the weather will still be outstanding and you're likely to save a lot of money on hotels. The same can be said for Florida (travel in August instead of in January and February) and Northern Minnesota (head north in early October instead of June and July.
Look for package deals
In today's world, everyone feels like they can find the best deals by booking everything separately–flights, cars, hotels, etc. But some of the best deals are still package deals. And don't be afraid to contact a travel agent. They often know about the best packages.
These days, big savings come in small packages. If you're flying, pack light and avoid the airlines' increasingly expensive checked-bag fees. Going out for the day? Pack your own lunch and save money by not eating out. Packing smart can add up to big-time savings.