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Start Now: How to Budget for Your Summer Vacation

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March 10, 2014 · 1.4k Views

Summer is right around the corner, and it’s time to start making vacation plans. Whether you want to go to a warm beach destination or prefer a cultural getaway to a cultural oasis, you can take advantage of deals and discounts to save money on airfare, hotels and attractions and have money left over for shopping, touring and other activities.

Look For Packages

Often, you can save money if you book airfare and hotel together. Many travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and others offer a wide range of packages. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind additional travel time, look for flights that have connections, as these can be cheaper. Booking in advance is the best way to take advantage of the best prices. Check several different sites to find the best deal, but once you find it, be prepared, because these are usually first come first serve.

Plan Your Itinerary

Before you go, think of all of the things that you consider “must” experiences, so you can see how much they cost. If you’re going to Hawaii, for example, figure out what everyone wants to do ahead of time, so you can budget accordingly. Also, if you’re a member of a frequent flier or hotel awards program, check the rewards section of the site and see if there are any deals you can take advantage of. Some programs will allow you to use points or miles to buy meals and activities.

Check Out Cost of Living Expenses

Before hitting up a new city, check out average expenses like gas, housing and food. This will give you a good idea of how much to budget for meals and gas if you’re renting a car. If you’re a AAA member, check out the member discounts on their website. You may be able to save money on dinner and car rentals. This service will also come in handy if you run into car issues in a city you’re not very familiar with.

Mind Small Expenses

Little fees like checked baggage, morning coffee and tips for various vendors aren’t typically considered, and they can add up quickly. If you’re checking a bag, be sure to budget for both flights. Make sure you weigh your bag before you leave and plan for souvenirs and other shopping. Otherwise, you may end up paying over weight fees when you’re on your way home.

Making a realistic budget for your vacation can be tricky, but it also helps to ensure a good time by eliminating stress that comes with spending a lot of money all at once. You don’t necessarily have to plan out every second, and there is always room for improvisation once you get there, but coming into your vacation with a good idea of expenses will allow you to make sure that you have enough on hand. After all, the point of a vacation is to decompress, so take care of the stressful part ahead of time.

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Alaina Brandenburger is a Freelance Writer and author of the blog, Fashion Girls Unite. A regular contributor to the Shopping and Style section of CBS Denver’s Top Spots, she is known for seeking out the best shopping spots in her hometown of Denver, Colorado. Alaina is also a regular contributor to the Style and Fashion section of A lifelong shopping enthusiast, she has an eye for spotting amazing deals and looking fashionable on a budget. Alaina also supports local fashion designers and industry professionals, such as makeup artists and hairstylists and is always a fixture at fashion related events.

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