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You’ve got to get away this summer. There’s no question about that. Summer vacation is more than a ritual. It is a stress management tool, a productivity enhancer and an engine of the economy. If your mind says, “Fiji!” and your wallet says, “Staycation!” there is another alternative.
This summer, take a vacation that you can afford. That doesn’t mean: Dress in formal attire and drive to the local buffet, pretending that you are on a cruise ship. It does mean saving money in one or more of the three key cost centers of a summer vacation: the flight, the destination and the hotel.
There are hundreds of dollars to be saved just by being flexible. The more flexible you are, the more travel savvy you will seem to your friends because you save money and end up with bragging rights to a great story. Last minute deals are available at all the major travel sites as well as a cottage industry of sites like Last Minute Travel that cater to “surprise me” travel packages.
If you are not able to be flexible with your dates, then open your mind to going somewhere off the beaten path. Auction sites like Skyauction.com can win you amazing deals to destinations you never considered, and maybe never even heard of before. Auctions can be tricky though. For one, there may be blackout dates so make sure you plan far in advance. For another, the bid you make usually doesn’t include taxes. Depending on where you are going, taxes can eat up all of your apparent savings, so check out the offer thoroughly.
If you have fixed vacation days, and don’t want to take chances on an unknown destination, then your accommodations are the next biggest expense to attack. In the old days, you could just travel through the countryside and someone would offer you a place to stay for the night. The 21st century equivalent (minus the stranger danger) is collaborative consumption, with hotel alternatives like Airbnb or other sites that offer vacation rentals. Last Minute Travel actually has an entire vacation homes section that offers you a slew of inexpensive apartments, condos and homes in places all over the world, including NYC, where Airbnb is being challenged. Or you can even take advantage of some of the last minute deals on sites like Orbitz.
As you can see, saving money on vacation this summer doesn’t have to be embarrassing. Employ these methods for a full-fledged vacation that allows you to save some cash while you get your groove back.