Many people are planning a vacation within the next six months.  With money tight, it’s important to plan ahead and seek out the best deals.  Below you will find 5 strategies that will save you money on your next  vacation!

Lodging – Who wants to stay in a motel when you can rent a condominium for the same price, There is nothing wrong with a hotel but if you can get the extra space of a condominium for the same price, why not do it,  The first place to start is by looking for condos for rent by owners.  The best owner website is vacation rentals by owner.  Once there, navigate to your favorite city.  Several hundred properties will appear in any major city.  Identify a dozen or so properties and email all of the owners expressing your interest and ask for a 30% discount off the quoted rate.  You will experience numerous rejections but if you are persistent, you will find an owner willing to negotiate.

Travel – Most people vacationing either drive or fly.  If you are driving,  check out Gas Buddy.  This website lists the price for gasoline at many stations along your route.  Once you know where the cheaper gas is sold, plan your fill-ups at those exits.  With careful planning, you’ll be able to save a dime or more per gallon every time you fill up.  If you are flying, check out Expedia or cheap flights for the best fares.  You will save money by choosing flights in non-peak times such as weekdays, early mornings, and late evenings.

Meals – Your condo will come with a full kitchen.  Stop at a local grocery store and stock up on the things you like to eat.  The most important meal to cook in your condo is dinner.  Most restaurants in vacation destinations charge their highest prices during this meal.  If you do want to eat out, avoid expensive beverages tabs by drinking water, and scan the local papers for early bird specials and other discounts.  By cooking at your condo, you’ll avoid expensive restaurant bills and eat healthier.

Activities and Entertainment – Plan your activities in advance and search for coupons and other discounts on the internet.  You will be able to consistently save 10%-25% off the walk-up rate.  Also inquire about discounts from the people you book your condo from.  They often have amenity discounts available for such activities as golf, dolphin cruises, dinner cruises and other activities.

Souvenirs, T-shirts, and other Expenses – You would never pay ridiculous prices at home for a t-shirt or other keepsake so why do it when you are on vacation,  Resist the urge and you’ll be happier when you return home.  However, if you must indulge, look for souvenirs in the local Wal-Mart and Target.  They will have a variety of local souvenirs for a fraction of the price of the smaller independent stores.  The prices are normally much lower and the merchandise is just as good.  If you have kids with you, give them each a budget at the beginning of the trip.  Tell them the amount they can spend up front and remind them how much they have left each time they buy something. You’ll be surprised at how little they spend when you do this one thing.

Vacationing is a great experience that doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  Follow the 5 strategies above and you’ll be able to take a vacation every year!