How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget

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A family vacation can be expensive these days. Gas prices are high. Air travel is not cheap. So how do you vacation on a budget? Just follow these travel planning tricks and you'll be able to go on more trips that cost less money than what you're paying now.

  • Vacation on a budget right in your home town. Unplug and turn off your phones. Visit museums and parks. Bring your own food and have a picnic. Go to a movie, or have a BBQ and invite the neighbors.

  • Save your money and take a road trip. Be aware that food and lodging costs often can be expensive. So if you're stressed before a vacation, you may become even more stressed after the vacation because of the big debt you've incurred. Only spend money you have and can afford to live without.

  • Check the popular travel web sites on the Internet for specials on hotel rates, and for package deals involving lodging, airfare and/or car rentals.

  • Call the hotel you want to stay at directly and see if you can get an even better deal for your vacation on a budget.

  • Join airline frequent flyer programs to begin building up points redeemable at a later date for free airline tickets.

  • Book with a travel agency to save time and often money. (See Tips below for more on this.)

  • Secure lower rates by scheduling airline flights on Tuesday, Wednesdays or Thursdays; and/or late at night or early in the morning. Fly off-season; your destination will be quieter and more relaxing without the crowds.

  • Search for books and other travel tips on the Internet where you will find eBooks, publishers on budget travel, and websites that bid and barter with major airlines for canceled seats at a discount for you. (See Resources below.)

Tips & Warnings

  • If hotels, cars and out-of-the-way travel are involved, it may be wiser to use the services of a travel agency. That's because car rentals and hotels still give agencies bonuses; and the seasoned travel agent can give you tips and suggestions when travel adventures bring you to new and unknown places. Airlines stopped giving bonuses to agencies in the 1990s, so agencies do charge a fee. But in 2004 a travel industry auditor found that 93.6 percent of the time agencies found cheaper flights at an $80 average over individuals booking online. An article published in USA Today (07/27/06) on the cost savings of booking online versus using an agency concluded it's impossible to tell who is booking cheaper flights because airlines are constantly changing flights and prices practically by the minute.

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