5 Ways to Save Money on Your Summer Vacation

Winter is thankfully over and spring has sprung, and therefore your mind might be turning to thoughts of your summer vacation. It's always great to get away - but one thing you don't want to get away from you is the expense of your vacation - otherwise, you might be in for a slew of credit card debt. In order to prevent that, here are five ways to save.

1. Save on Your Plane Ticket

Once you have the dates of your trip set, input them at a travel aggregator website such as KAYAK or BookingBuddy. That way, you can get email updates for when the price of plane tickets drops. In addition, sign up for the email newsletter of your preferred carrier - you might get an email alerting you of a short-term sale.

2. Reduce Lodging Costs

If your destination is on the beach, choose a hotel roughly a block away from the beach rather than a beachfront property. You can save a bundle - and the short walk will be good exercise. If you have kids and staying near the beach is important because of the convenience factor, see if there's a room available without a beachfront view to save money. Contact hotels directly (don't use the 800 number) when booking your reservation, and ask if there are any discounts available.

3. Get Your Eats on the Cheap

Book a room with cooking amenities, and enjoy some of your meals in room by stocking up on food at the grocery store. When out and about, don't discount food trucks in various cities - these can be a source for very tasty cheap eats.

4. Make Smart Souvenir Purchases

When it comes to the mementos you choose to purchase, be smart. Do your window shopping during the first few days of your trip, but don't buy anything - save that for the end of your stay. That way, you can have a better overall view of the available souvenirs. You'll know the ones you really want, and you'll know where to buy them at the best price.

5. Cut Gas Costs

If you'll be driving to your destination instead of flying, download the GasBuddy app to your smartphone before you leave. Whenever the gas tank hits "E," input the zip code for where you're at and you'll get a list of the cheapest places to fill up. Gas is normally more expensive at stations near Interstates, so traveling an extra half-mile or so can result in some decent savings.

Final Thoughts

If your vacation is still a few months away, start setting aside money now. Set up a separate savings account at your bank and direct $50 (or whatever amount fits your budget) to that account from each paycheck. Saving money on your mid-year getaway is important, but if you have a nest egg set aside before you even leave town, you'll improve the chances of taking a vacation without doing any lasting damage to your overall budget.

Can you suggest any other ways to save money on a summer vacation?

Ben Crain is a lifestyle contributor who enjoys finding ways to save money on the things he loves including travel and entertainment costs.