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3 Ways We're Sacrificing for a Summer Vacation

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the calendar turned to June, thought turns to sunny beaches, cool mountains and lazy days nursing a lemonade without a care in the world.

Three-quarters of Americans are looking forward to a vacation this summer (176 million travelers in all), according to the latest American Express Spending & Savings Tracker. That figure is up from 69% last year and 59% from 2012, suggesting that Americans are feeling better about the economy, and maybe also need a break after one of the most volatile economic periods in U.S. history.

They may need to figure out a way to pay for their vacations, though.

"We are seeing that Americans are indeed spending more, but they are still being resourceful in order to cut costs where they can," says Claire Bennett, an executive vice president at American Express Travel. "Travelers are doing their homework and taking more time to plan, ensuring they get the best deal possible without sacrificing those little extras that make their trips special. Most will plan trips at least a month in advance and expect to visit an average five websites to find deals."

How are we, as a nation, paying for all of this sun and fun? By cutting costs wherever possible and making choices that offer a reduced price tag on summer trips. That's what 90% of Americans plan to do this summer, according to Amex.

Here's a look at how Americans are reducing the price of a vacation over the next 12 weeks:

Staying in the U.S. More U.S. travelers are vacationing here in America. Amex says that 70% of travelers will stay in the U.S. -- 5% higher than last year. (Seventeen percent of survey respondents said they were headed overseas, same as last year.)

Making tradeoffs. Sixty percent of travelers will make concessions on the quality of their vacation or their approach to it, Amex says, with 44% saying they will drive instead of fly, and 28% saying they will "choose a less expensive destination," such as state and national parks and beaches, rather than paying for big-city hotels or going to relatively pricey water parks.

Cutting back beforehand. On the list of cutbacks made to save for vacation are dining out, new travel clothing and home improvement projects, with 86% saying they'll sacrifice for a little payoff later.

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