Make your vacation dollars go farther this summer: Tips for a budget-friendly summer vacation

Summer travel season is almost here. Planning for the next family trip to visit relatives, stay at the beach or camp out in tents under the stars is in full swing, and everyone is dreaming of upcoming departure dates.

Planning summer trips doesn’t have to be a tedious and expensive process. Start your research online on a site like, which not only has several discount coupons listed for airfare, car rentals and hotels, helping you save money on your purchase, but also will give you cash back so you can spend a little more money elsewhere on your trip.

Once you’ve made your travel plans you need to prepare for the trip. Here’s a checklist to help streamline the process.

* Do your research by purchasing your destination guides and maps in advance. Plan out and reserve any special activities so that you avoid last minute surcharges or the disappointment of things being sold out. Remember to check out deal discussion forums on sites like, where you can find great hidden savings on tickets, coupons and vouchers for a variety of summer vacation activities and amusement parks.

* No matter if you’re camping or planning on sitting on the beach, sunscreen, first aid supplies and bug spray are a must for all summer travel plans. Make sure you these items before you leave so you don’t pay the premium rates that most tourist destinations charge. Keep them together in a small bag that can tuck inside a larger suitcase for plane trips, or into the trunk for road travels.

* Books come in handy when traveling in the car, sitting on the airplane or snuggling into bed after a long day of activity. Your family could pack four or five heavy novels each in suitcases, but instead, lighten the load with e-readers – lightweight mobile electronic devices that allow you to store multiple books for reading. Need to add e-readers to your pre-trip shopping list? Again, consider shopping online through, to take advantage of special discounts and earn cash back at the same time.

* One device you absolutely don’t want to leave behind when planning a road trip is your GPS device. These devices come in handy – even if you are familiar with area you’re driving through – in case you want to take a spontaneous side trip to see the largest ball of twine or get stuck in road construction detours. If you don’t already have a GPS unit, be sure to purchase one with a coupon code at and save a little money.

With these tips and your handy packing list, you’ll be prepped and ready to go well in advance of departure. Just be sure your camera is handy so you can grab it quickly at all perfect photo-opportunity stops.

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