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Get ready for a rewarding summer.

Spend less money and more time with your family.

After one of the coldest winters on record, the travel industry is predicting a banner year, as people do everything they can to shake off the winter doldrums. According to a recent TripAdvisor® survey, 89% of Americans are planning a leisure trip this summer, and 36% of those who responded plan to spend more this summer than last.1 That’s great news for the economy, especially when you consider that the average American family typically spends about $1,600 on a summer vacation.2

Of course, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a great summer vacation. Many families manage to have truly magical, memorable experiences without jetting off to some exotic location or expensive resort. If you’re looking to spend less money, and more quality time with your family, here are a few ideas.

Go against the grain.

While everyone else is flocking to the beach, why not head inland to a cozy bed and breakfast. Since this is likely their off season, rates could be extremely affordable–and you won’t have to fight for lounge chairs or dinner reservations.

Rough it.

Camping can be a wonderful family vacation—and an affordable adventure. If you don’t own the equipment already, many outfitters rent out everything from sleeping bags to fishing poles. Combine it with a scenic trail hike or canoe trip, and most of your daytime activities are covered just enjoying the wilderness.

Sign up for last-minute deals.

If your plans are flexible, you may be able to take advantage of some terrific deals. Cruise lines are well-known for offering steep discounts if you can leave at the drop of a hat and help fill their cabins. You can register with them directly online, or through some of the top travel sites.

Dine in.

Food can be a major expense during vacation—especially if you have kids. To keep costs down, look for hotels that offer free breakfasts, or rooms with kitchenettes where you can prepare your own meals. All-inclusive resorts can also be a good value, but they may come with unexpected fees. Before booking, make sure you know exactly what’s included in your rate.

Get friendly with hostels.

While hostels aren’t for everyone, they do offer low-cost, basic lodging. Contrary to popular belief, many come with private rooms, are open to families, and are abundant here in the U.S. You can look them up by state at

Look for free activities.

In the summer, many cities host free events like art shows, music festivals, and movies in the park. Check out local websites and try to schedule your trip around the events that sound most appealing.

Redeem credit card points.

Many credit cards offer reward points and other incentives that can help make your vacation more affordable. Review your terms and conditions to see if you can use these points to help cover airfare, hotels, rental cars, or anything else you might need.

1”U.S. Travelers Hot to Trot for Summer in 2014, According to Trip Advisor Survey,“ Wall Street Journal Online, April 30, 2014.
2”The Business of American Vacations,“ VisualEconomics, May 13, 2014.