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Budget-friendly summer vacation ideas

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Summer vacations that won't break the bank

Summer is just around the corner and if you're like most moms, you already have vacation on the brain. If you want your family to take a fun and memorable vacay this summer, but worry that your bank account won't allow it, read on for tricks to plan a budget-friendly getaway everyone will love.

Be last minute

OK, so maybe having kids and last-minute travel don't exactly go hand-in-hand. But these deals can be the perfect solution to saving money on your family's trip. (One plane ticket is expensive enough, but the cost of three, four or even more can become overwhelming.) There are a lot of websites like the aptly named lastminutetravel.com or travel-ticker.com that offer deals on airfare, hotels and rental cars if you can be flexible and prepared to head out on your summer trip sooner than you might have planned.

Be flexible

If you can also be flexible on your travel dates and even your destination, you can find some great deals. The days you travel can also make your plane ticket less expensive. Try departing on a Wednesday instead of a Friday and returning on a Saturday instead of Sunday. Experts also agree that the best days to purchase your airline tickets are Tuesday and Wednesday when fares are typically lower.

Be adventurous

You don't have to stay at a five-star resort or go to the obvious expensive destinations to make your kids happy. With warm summer weather on your side, consider a camping trip. Not only will it be inexpensive, but it will be a great way to bond with the kids (think fishing, fireside chats and nature walks). Whether you set up camp at the beach or at a national park, the children will love the experience.

Be a saver

Maybe it's too late to sock money away for this year's summer vacation, but it's definitely time to start saving for next year's family getaway. If it's not in your budget to put a certain amount of money in savings each month, by simply skipping things like that morning latte with extra whipped cream or eating in a few more nights a month, you can save cash for your vacation stash.

Top camping vacation destinations for families >>

Be imposing

Don't be afraid to ask friends or family who live close to your destination if they can pick you up from the airport or even if you can stay with them for a night or two. Not only can this be a great way to watch your budget, but it will also be an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones.

Be resourceful

If you're not flexible on your dates or your destination and you absolutely can't stomach the idea of a last-minute trip, there is another way to get cheaper accommodations. Renting an apartment instead of a staying at a hotel can be a huge cost-saver. Not to mention that when you're traveling with children there are many benefits to having an apartment. The kitchen is a huge bonus because you can prepare your own meals and save on expensive meals out. And apartments are likely to be more spacious than hotel rooms. (And let's face it, being bunked up in one hotel room can get claustrophobic.)

How a vacation really impacts your budget >>

More low-cost vacation ideas

Big fun, small price: 10 Budget-friendly vacation ideas
Tips for finding family travel deals
Frugal family vacations

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