piggy bank at the beachAre you ready for the summer vacation season?

Part of preparing for a vacation is knowing how to save money on your travel. Here are 15 ideas to get you started:

1. Consider a travel-related credit card.

If you need a credit card, consider airline cards that offer tens of thousands of miles as a sign-up bonus. You may also want to consider a reward credit card that lets you earn points that can be transferred to your favorite airline.

2. Use travel auction sites.

Using sites such as Priceline and Hotwire, you can bid for hotels, flights and rental cars using name-your-price tools. You can see what travelers are paying on these sites by heading over to BetterBidding.

3. Show your student or military ID.

If you’re a student or in the military, you may be eligible for lower prices on vacation deals.

4. Enroll in membership organizations.

If you’re old enough, an AARP card can get you discounts on hotels, cars, cruises, vacation packages and tourist attractions.  Members of AAA also enjoy travel discounts.

5. Travel during less popular times.

You can save money if you avoid traveling between Memorial Day and Labor Day as well as during the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. If your dates are flexible, traveling midweek, rather than on weekends, will usually result in lower airfares.

6. Use social media.

Consider following travel and airline sites to get the best deals. Sometimes rock-bottom airfares are only offered for a few hours.

7. Set alerts for your destination.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest travel expense is transportation. It represents 44% of the total amount spent on travel. Create alerts on air travel sites for low fares to desired destinations.

8. Time your airline purchases.

According to CheapAir.com, the best time to buy airline tickets is often 47 days in advance.

9. Rent from owners.

Thanks to companies like VRBO and Airbnb, the opportunities to stay in someone’s home while on vacation have mushroomed. What a lot of people don’t know is that you can negotiate with the owners who offer rental properties on these sites.

10. Go camping.

Campsites are obviously a lot cheaper than a hotel room.

11. Skip the costly car-rental insurance.

Many credit cards include car–rental coverage. Your car insurance carrier probably has you covered too. Check your coverage before your trip. You probably don’t need the expensive policies offered by car rental companies.

12. Keep looking.

If you find a better deal on hotels, cars or other travel expenses, it may be possible to cancel your earlier reservations and get a lower price.

13. Monitor daily deals.

On websites like Groupon and LivingSocial, look for daily deals in your vacation destination. You can learn about available visitor attractions and find coupons for restaurants and entertainment opportunities.

14. Skip the souvenirs.

It might seem like a good idea to buy them, but trinkets – those fridge magnets, shot glasses and decorative spoons – will probably end up unused.

15. Buy breakfast at the grocery store.

Restaurant meals often comprise a large percentage of your vacation spending. If you’re staying in a hotel, you can buy fruit, cereal or bagels and eat in. Even better, also buy what you need for lunch.

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