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Money saving tips and tricks for your next vacation

Karen Von Der Bruegge

Vacations are supposed to be a time to go away with the family somewhere special, see the sights, relax a bit, have fun and create wonderful memories. But too often the cost and stress can make you want a vacation to recover from your vacation.

The following are some tips that can save both your money and your sanity.

  • Go in the off season—You can save significant money by vacationing during off-peak times. For example, you can go to a national park in the spring when the weather is still nice, but when prices are cheaper.
  • Skip the hotel—Bed and breakfasts often offer discounts to remain at capacity, while hostels can be a great choice for those who just need a place to sleep without the amenities (and many now offer private rooms for couples and families). Camping out is also an alternative, and you may be able to rent an RV for less money than a hotel.
  • Stay close to home—There are numerous places to visit close to home, and getting there costs less and takes less time. You can even vacation without leaving town; day-trips can offer a great way to see local sites like museums, zoos and galleries, and all without blowing your budget.
  • Take and/or make your own food—If you're driving to your destination, pack a cooler or two with sandwiches, drinks, and snack foods, and then stop at roadside parks for meals. If you're staying in a hotel with a kitchenette (or even just a fridge and microwave), you can save a bundle by making your own meals.
  • Search smart—Searching for cheap airfare can be difficult, as one site that has a great deal today may not have it tomorrow. Sites like kayak.com provide one-stop searching by doing the search work and giving you hundreds of results, all within a minute or two.
  • Research ahead of time—Check for free attractions and events available near your destination ahead of time, and look for online coupons for attractions, restaurants, hotels, etc. Just print them before you go and have them ready when you get there.
  • Skip the rental—Check to see what type of public transportation is available at your vacation spot instead of renting a car. If you must rent a car, check places like rentawreck.com, where the cars may not look brand new, but run well and cost less.
  • Remember military discounts—From major franchises to small mom-and-pop places, a majority offer some sort of discount or perks to service members and their families. So don't forget to bring your military ID and check for discounts everywhere you spend money.
  • Package discounts—You can get a deal by buying a package vacation with airfare, hotel, car rental, and even attraction tickets in one purchase. Check online or with a travel agent to see what's available for where you're headed.

About the author
Karen Von Der Bruegge is the Chief Marketing Officer for Pioneer Services, a Division of MidCountry Bank, a company that provides responsible financial services and education exclusively to the military community. She is both a Certified Credit Report Reviewer and Identity Theft Prevention Specialist, has managed award-winning branding campaigns, and serves on the board of USA Cares, a non-profit that assists military families.

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