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how to save money on summer vacation

In Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia, it gets hot in the summer — really hot. Sometimes, even we need to beat the heat and go on a relaxing summer vacation. But can you afford it? One of the biggest benefits of living in the south is how close we are to summer vacation destinations. But can you afford a summer vacation?

You may feel like you don't have the money for a trip. But with these great tips for saving money on your next summer vacation, you might just find you have more than enough cash to have the time of your life!

How to Save Up for a Summer Vacation

Before you book your vacation, you'll need a nest egg — or at least a plan to save up to pay for the trip. Where should you start when you're saving for a vacation? Here are some tips for stretching your budget the farthest when planning a trip.

1. Make a Budget and Stick to It

Everyone should have a careful budget that helps them plan out all of their expenses each month. That way, you'll always know how much extra money you'll have to drop into that summer vacation fund.

Plus, you'll be way less stressed and ready to enjoy yourself to the fullest on your awesome getaway.

2. Set up Automatic Transfers

Even if you have a budget and the best intentions to save for a vacation, you may forget to put money away each month. Prioritize your savings by setting up an automatic bank transfer each month. Open an account specifically to save money for your vacation. Some banks offer special incentives for doing this. Decide on an amount that won't put you in a financial pinch that will still make a good dent in your vacation expenses. You can vary the amount as you get closer to vacation. 

3. Cut Out Extras

When you go to work or to the gas station, do you find yourself consistently buying coffee, lottery tickets, snacks, cigarettes, or other items that you could survive without?

You might not think that spending $20 a week on these little extras hurts you too much in the long run. But if you really stop and think about how much you could be saving by not buying them, it can be seriously eye-opening.

Challenge yourself to quit any bad habits you have that slowly eat away at your bank account. When you go to the gas station, stay outside at the pump, rather than going inside where you may be tempted. Invest in a nicer creamer or syrup for your home if you typically buy fancy coffee. You'll be amazed at how much money you'll save!

4. Use a Miles or Cash Back Credit Card

One of the best ways to save money for your summer vacation may not even involve actual money. You can pay for travel transportation or lodging using airline miles or credit card points. Plan months or years ahead by getting a credit card that offers cash back or points for airlines or hotels. Look into cards that also offer point or cash bonuses when you sign up to extend your freebies as far as possible.

Tips for Saving on Your Summer Vacation

Now that you know some steps that will prepare you for booking a vacation, how do you save money on the actual trip? These tips will help you take a cheap vacation in the summer.

1. Don't Go to Walt Disney World

Controversial, we know! When you think of ultimate family summer getaways, you probably imagine the most expensive and popular destinations — and about how they'll leave you bankrupt. Well, stop! You don't have to go to Disney World to have an incredible summer vacation away from your home.

Instead, make common sense vacation choices that are more financially feasible. Whether that means planning your trip way ahead of time to get the best prices or selecting a destination that costs very little (like one of the countless national parks throughout the country), keeping costs down for your family's summer vacation is totally doable. And there are lots of amusement parks in Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia that you may enjoy even more than Disney World!

2. Save On Food

One of the best parts of any vacation is the new and interesting food options you'll encounter along the way. But these can add up to astronomically high costs, even on the drive or flight there and back! There are several things you should do to save money on food before and during summer vacations.

Plan Ahead

Instead, plan ahead. Find restaurants and other food options that are low-cost or even free, and work your schedule around those as often as possible. Look for specials and coupons that help you save.

Eat Healthy Food

For most American households, food can be one of the most costly expenses. And if your family has a fast food or junk food habit, that cost can pile up quickly. Add money to your summer vacation fund by rekindling your joy of cooking. 

Make your own healthy meals ahead of time to get your family through the day — especially if you plan on splurging for dinner. By buying inexpensive groceries and committing to not eating loads of junk food in favor of healthier options, you'll be much closer to eating whatever you want on vacation!

Take Advantage of Free Food

Are you traveling with children? If so, you may be able to feed them for free. Lots of restaurants offer free meals to kids when their parents purchase a full-price entree. Make a list of all the places in the area that do this, then frequent those spots for lunch and dinner. 

Of course, everyone eats for free when a hotel has a breakfast bar. Encourage kids to snag an extra piece of fruit to eat later in the day, or grab an extra bagel slathered with cream cheese for lunch in a few hours. Never pass up a free continental breakfast!

Stay Somewhere With a Fridge and Microwave

When you stay in a room with a fridge and microwave, you can prepare a lot of food on your own, in addition to eating leftovers when you do eat out. Take a trip to the grocery store when you arrive, and stock up on cheap things you can use for low-fuss breakfasts and lunches, such as: 

  • Peanut butter and bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola bars

If you do eat out, get the cheapest option that includes the most food. You'll get the most bang for your buck and can extend one meal into two, or even share with whomever you're vacationing with.

3. Look for Newer Vacation Destinations

This might sound crazy, but the nicest, newest vacation spots may actually be the most affordable.

When a brand-new hotel, resort, or other destination opens, they often have to compete in areas with well-established brands that are comfortable with sky-high rates. As a result, the newer locations will offer huge discounts and package deals that will allow you and your family to spend your vacation in luxury for cheap!

But you may be racing the clock to snag these deals. Sometimes, the new hotels and resorts anticipate selling out during their cheapest pricing windows, so do your best to book your stay far in advance.

4. Take Advantage of Discounts and Deals

Did you spend time in the military? Are you over 50? Are you an organization member?

Depending on your age and background, you may qualify for a number of demographic-specific discounts. Every time you book a night at a hotel or resort, pay for dinner at a fancy restaurant or buy a large item, be sure to ask the establishment if they offer these discounts.

This is one of those cheap travel tips that may not be available at all summer vacation destinations, but if you find enough discounts, the money will seriously add up and allow you to do even more with your time away from home!

5. Use Discount Vacation Booking Sites

In addition to getting discounts for your involvement or demographics, you can get the lowest prices you can on lodging, car rentals and entertainment. You can book these deals by using discount travel websites — enter all your flight and overnight information, and these sites will match you up with the discounted package that suits your needs. Many offer price match guarantees, too. So, if you see a lower price on your airline ticket a couple of weeks before vacation, alert the service and live without regrets.

6. Choose Your Dates Wisely

One of our best tips for planning a summer vacation on a budget is to consider carefully when you go on vacation. Can you plan your trip for the very end or the very beginning of the summer? You will encounter lower demand for hotels, restaurants and entertainment, and with lower demand comes lower pricing. A rental that might cost $400 per night during peak dates will cost much less than that closer to the offseason. 

Avoid going during holidays, too. Many people vacation on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, so you will face lots of competition to book a room, and prices will surge.

7. Plan Your Getaway Close to Home

You will save a lot on transportation if you pick a destination you can drive to with relative ease. Buying plane or train tickets can add up quickly, especially if you have lots of family members. Even if you have to stay at a hotel overnight before you get to your destination, you will still spend less than you would on tickets. An added bonus of driving is you can add stops along the way and make the journey part of the adventure.

8. Plan Your Trip With Friends and Family 

The more people you bring on a trip, the less each person pays. Your vacation fund will go a lot further if you pay for a third of the cost of a beach house versus paying for the entire thing yourself. Taking a trip with friends or family will stretch your money further in other ways, too — such as with gas or rental vehicle expenses. Additionally, if everyone pitches in on groceries, you will spend a fraction of what you would on your own.

9. Seek out Free Entertainment

One of the best money-saving travel tips is to keep your entertainment choices low- or no-price. That means skipping the pricey amusement park and choosing a local museum instead. Make sure your family understands this plan — otherwise they may not be on board. 

You can find plenty of cheap summer vacation ideas for entertainment when you investigate ahead of time. Look for parks, museums, and events without admission fees. You also can fall back on tried-and-true low-priced entertainment available in just about any city, such as bowling or going to the movies. And don't forget to look for coupons and discounts if you do book entertainment that costs money.

10. Get Cheap Gas

If you drive to your destination, gas will be a major expense. But it doesn't have to be. You can use apps to find the cheapest gas prices in the area. You can also take advantage of rewards points that will discount the price of gas. Track the cycles of gas pricing to discover the best day to buy. You can save hundreds of dollars on vacation through gas purchase planning.

Apply For a Personal Loan Online

11. Apply for a Personal Loan from Atlas Credit

When planning a summer vacation, many people shy away from the best options because they see they don't have enough money in their bank accounts to afford everything they want to do. If you get to the last few days before it's time to leave on your vacation and realize you're short on money, don't panic.

Now you know how to save up for a vacation. See how simple these steps are? With a little careful planning and the help of Atlas Credit, you'll soon be having a blast on your summer vacation!

You can qualify in a flash for a personal loan from Atlas Credit, even if you have bad credit. All you have to do is apply online or in one of our many brick-and-mortar locations across the great states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. By applying for a personal loan online or at your local Atlas Credit location, you can get up to $1,500 to help pay for your summer vacation. Apply for your personal loan today and bon voyage!

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