Seven Steps Toward a Cheaper Summer Trip

The sinking economy has clipped many people's travel plans, but there's no need to stay home this summer. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, a trip abroad or to the beach is still possible.

In past years, you could afford to wait until mid-May to plan your summer vacation. This year, more people will use frequent-flier miles to buy tickets or fly economy-class so they can afford their trips. Consumers will need to plan ahead and change the way they view travel to create a memorable getaway.

Here are seven tips to help you maximize your summer vacation:

1. Seek affordable alternatives: If you spent past years in a glamorous summer rental footing the tab for your friends, maybe it's time to show everyone that you're not above living within a budget. Scout out cheaper rentals on websites run by VRBO or Owner Direct Vacation Rentals, where owners list their properties directly. You'll be able to cut out the brokers and negotiate with the owner, which could save you 30% or more.

2. Consider London: A year ago, one U.S. dollar was worth about half a pound, making a stay in a three-star London hotel pricey and shopping unimaginable. The gap has since narrowed, and a dollar is worth 0.70 pounds. Some analysts expect the dollar to gain more value against the pound, creating a boon for bargain hunters.

3. Stay closer to home: ReserveAmerica provides a catalog of 300,000 campsite and cabins in 4,000 destinations. One of our favorites is the Crystal Cove Cottages near Laguna Beach, Calif. It's a collection of 1930s and 1950s beach cottages originally constructed for a Hollywood movie. They were recently renovated with furnishings from those eras. Their kitchens and proximity to the beach make them perfect for a family getaway.

Camping is a cheap, fun vacation alternative.

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