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PLAN YOUR EPIC SUMMER VACAY…ON A BUDGET!

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Good, because we’ve got the best tips on how to plan that trip AND stay on budget!

No matter your budget, I guarantee you there’s a summer vacay to fit it. Gather a few dollars, all your spare change, download some great travel apps, get creative, and start planning…

WHERE TO GO

If you don’t want to break the bank this summer, look for locations that are “off the beaten path” and aren’t going to draw big crowds. Another great option is to do a mid-week getaway and avoid the weekends.  Check out some of these options!

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YOSEMITE

Avoid the main park on the valley floor and head to the north end, exploring the area surrounding Tenaya Lake.  You’ll have hiking trails and spectacular views all to yourself without the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the valley floor.  There’s free and paid camping options in the vicinity– bonus: you’ll probably have the entire lake to yourself!

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

With the addition of the Stornetta Public Lands into the National Monument line-up a few years ago, you’ve now got miles of hiking, beaches and a small-town vibe in Point Arena to entertain you. There are tons of low-cost camping options around (see the Hip Camp section below). Also, don’t miss the annual 4th of July Celebration!

TEXAS

Skip Austin and head for San Antonio!  You can snag a 4-star resort for around $150 a night (about half the price of Austin), and enjoy all the hip new restaurants and nightlife.

BOSTON

You can save a ton of money if you come to this fun and historical city in the middle of summer, rather than the fall. Bonus: you can brush up on your history lessons before school starts!

NEW YORK CITY

A great choice for a late summer getaway.  If your life doesn’t revolve around school, head to the big apple right before Labor Day Weekend and take advantage of giant discounts, as well as free outdoor events including the New York Philharmonic concerts and Shakespeare in the Park.

HOW TO GET THERE

Before you book that train trip that has been all over Facebook (it’s not as good as it sounds – trust me) boasting a cross country trip for just a couple of bucks, check out these low-cost options and travel hacks to get to your destination:

TRAVEL PIRATES

If you don’t care where you go, you just want it to be cheap or if you are determined to take advantage of an airline’s mistakes, sign up for Travel Pirate.  You’ll get a daily email filled with loads of savings on your next trip.

CHECK YOUR MEMBERSHIPS

If you have AAA you might qualify for discounts on car rentals, bus tickets, and more.  Check with your insurance company’s website for any travel related discounts and/or planning services.

WHERE TO STAY

Besides transportation, accommodations can eat a hole in your wallet fast.  Planning ahead can ensure that you don’t break the bank with this line item.  Check out these options before you book!

AIRBNB

You’ve heard of it, but have you tried it? Make sure you know what you need to survive your vacay (pool, internet, washer/dryer, refrigerator, etc.) and start your search out with selecting the proper filters.  Then pick your dates and location.  Make sure you play with the date ranges, some owners will offer up discounts that could potentially turn your five day budget into a seven day budget.  For more AirBNB hacks and a coupon for $35 off your first rental, head over to Loving the Suite Life.

HOTEL TONIGHT

If you are jumping in the car and just wingin’ your vacation, this is the app for you!  Last minute discounts that get deeper as the day goes by.  Into the evening, you can sometimes snag a pricey hotel for pennies on the dollar.  It’s easy to use, and super clear pricing.  For $25 off your first stay…head over to the Travel Finds Blog at Loving the Suite Life.

SURF THE INTERNET

Do some sleuthing, and look for off the beaten path hotels with great reviews.  Chances are if you stay a few miles out of the city center, or an off brand, you’ll get a better deal. My pick: Palm Mountain Resort in Palm Springs. It’s right in the center of town, has everything you need including a killer pool, and is about half the price of the swankier resorts next door.

b8dnx1wspbsc0hbxsvz3HIP CAMP

Want to go camping but avoid the crowds? Find unique places to pitch your tent, all on private lands…think big sprawling ranches, or secluded ocean front locals. Get $20 off your first reservation here.  My pick: the 3G Familia Farm on the Northern California Coastline.  For $60 bucks a night you’ve got privacy, the ocean, and the redwoods.

WHAT TO DO

ASK THE EXPERTS

Generally every region, city, county, or state has a travel or tourism bureau.  Look online or give them a call. Chances are they have a free planner, calendar of events, and suggestions of the “must do” activities in the area.

EXPLORE INSTAGRAM

Using the location-based part of Instagram, you can find out what everyone else is doing in the area.  You might find unknown swimming holes, cool private beaches, the best street tacos, and more just by insta-stalking!

Now that you’ve got the ultimate guide to planning your vacay on a budget, where will you go? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image via http://labella-instagram.tumblr.com/ 

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