Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get More Vacation for Less: Part 2

A travel industry insider shares her nine best rules for stretching your budget during vacation. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher states that everyone wants a great summer vacation, bu no one wants the steep credit card bill that can too often tag along. Does that mean you have to Google yourself into a frenzy and invest countless hours in trying to find the lowest airfares and hotel rates? Not at all. Below part 2 of Suzanne's vacation saving tips:

5. Hit the Beach:  If you like the idea of spreading out but really want to be by the shore come summer, snag a beach house or a condo, rather than a hotel room.  This way you live large and save big.  Try vacation rental sites like homeaway.com or vrbo.com (VRBO stands for "vacation rentals by owners")  to get your feet wet. 

6. Save On the High Seas: In the not-too-distant past, you had to fly to Florida or Los Angeles to board most cruises.  But today there are many more options, and if you live near the coast, you may be able to skip the pricey plane ticket and instead drive for a few hours to the nearest cruise port.  Another way to be a money-smart traveler: While typical cruises last full week, most lines now offer three-four,and five day sailings, which can suit a slimmer budget. Just be sure to use your travel e-alerts with family-friendly cruise lines like Carnival (carnival.com), Disney Cruise Line (disneycruise.disney.go.com), Norwegian Cruise Line (ncl.com), and Royal Caribbean International (royalcaribbean.com) to help pare down your cost even more.

7. Park It: Of course, vacationing at a state or national park is a terrific way to spend quality time with your family in the great outdoors.  And it's affordable: In Ohio's Hueston Woods State Park, for example, you can reserve campsite for $24 a night.  But if sleeping bags and tens really aren't your thing, some state and national parks also have lodges and cabins that feel quite resort-like thanks to indoor and outdoor pools, Wi-Fi, and fitness rooms.

8. Drive a Great Deal: You know AAA membership is a lifesaver if your car breaks down, but it's also a key ingredient in an affordable vacation.  For the basic membership fee of $38 to $85 per year (go to aaa.com for details), you can get discounts on rental cars, train tickets, hotel bills, and more.

9. Take the Skies Less Travel: Airfare can be the biggest budget-buster these days, but if you're willing to travel a bit farther to get to the airport, you can save some serious cash.  To scan savings on airfares check the list of nearby alternative airports at cheapflights.com/travel-tips/alternative-airports.

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is editor in chief at wejustgotback.com.


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