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How to Save Money on Your Next Vacation

January 3rd, 2013 Personal Finance

Your vacation should be a time to unwind and forget about all of the stresses that plague your everyday life. Unfortunately, it can be hard to relax when you're constantly worrying about how much your trip is going to cost. A 2008 survey conducted by AAA revealed that the average daily cost for two adults traveling in North America was $244, and that number can only go up when you head to a foreign country.

If you're concerned about staying within budget, there are plenty of things you can do to ease the burden on your wallet. Here are a few tips that can help give you the peace of mind needed to bask in your vacation for all its worth!

1. Think ahead. The farther in advance you make your reservations, the less they're going to cost you. It can be difficult to think six, or even three, months ahead of time, but doing so can dramatically lower the final cost of your airfare and hotel room. Decide where you want to go well ahead of time and diligently check on plane tickets for the next few months. You'll get an idea of what the average price for tickets is, and you may even fall into a great deal. Once you've booked your flight, immediately decide on a hotel and call them as soon as possible.

2. Avoid tourist traps. If you want to have a truly memorable vacation, you may have to move a little bit out of your comfort zone. One mistake that a lot of travelers make is sticking to the beaten path. It's can make for a good time, but prices are almost always going to be higher than if you get a little adventurous. Before your trip, go online and find any restaurants and attractions that locals recommend - you may end up paying less for services that are equal or superior to what you'll find on the main hotel strip.

3. Don't check any bags. Depending on the length of your trip, this may not be possible, but with some clever packing techniques, you may be able to get away with stuffing everything you need into a carry-on bag. Many airlines aren't allowing customers a free checked bag anymore, so you can save up to $50 if you're able to pull it off.

4. Use public transportation. The idea of getting on a bus in an area that you have no familiarity with is definitely intimidating, but your bravery will be rewarded with incredible savings. Why pay a cab driver $20 when you may be able to drop 75 cents to ride the bus? Ask hotel employees what public transportation runs nearby and where you can find bus stops or subway stations. If you happen to be in an area where your phone's GPS services work, simply ask for transit directions!

5. Visit during the off season. If you're traveling to a region like Puerto Rico, you're going to love the weather in December as much as you are in June. You may have to contend with a little more rain, but a lot of vacation destinations are known for their amazing weather year-round. Why not take advantage of this and visit when prices and demand are inevitably going to be lower? The savings can add up quite a bit, and you won't have to contend with hordes of fellow tourists.