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Summer vacation is a great way to bond with family, make memories and experience new things, but it’s also a great way to plunge into debt. It’s not fun, or fiscally smart, to be paying off your week-long vacation for the rest of the year either. Here are a few ways to have a great vacation without adding financial stress:

Create A Budget (and Stick to It) – Be realistic about how much you can spend. Hopefully you’ve been stashing small amounts away all year. Take a hard look at your available cash, savings, etc. to get an idea of how much you are willing to spend.

Stay With Friends and Family – If you have friends or family in another town who have the space, ask to visit and stay with them. It’s helpful to make it clear from the outset that you are fine spending some part of the trip sightseeing. Let them know they don’t have to take off work or sidestep other commitments, if that’s what you choose.

Save Before You Go – Make small sacrifices all year in order to build a stash of vacation cash. If it helps, leave brochures around your house for the extra motivation to keep you on your goal.

Daily Local Discounts – New websites offering local discounts, coupons or deals pops up everyday. Sign up for a few of those in your destination city, and choose carefully. It’s not a deal if you end up not using it. But, keep an eye out for discounts to tourist sites or must-visit restaurants.

Garage Sale – Sell your stuff to fund your vacation – This is the perfect time of the year to have a garage sale and sell off your old things to fund your vacation. If you have a family get everyone involved in cleaning out their closets to fund the trip.

Vacation Options – Everyone has a “bucket list” of dream vacations and destinations they want to visit or experience during their lifetimes. However, due to the current economy this may not be the perfect time to take the dream vacation. Use your budget and timeframes to narrow your vacation options to fit within your budget. Start a dream vacation fund to start saving for the “bucket list” trip of a lifetime. Don’t go until you can pay cash for the entire trip. The Dream vacation will keep you motivated to save.

Travel Time vs. Vacation Time – Nothing is more valuable than our time. This has never more true than when we are on vacation since our time is very limited. Therefore, spend some time looking for new destinations or experiences that are closer to your home. This not only will give you more vacation time and less travel time it will also lower your overall vacation costs.

Travel Discounts – The economy has impacted every industry including the tourism and travel businesses. Therefore, spend some time looking online for the best deals in hotels, airfares, excursions, etc. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for additional discounts from hotels, excursions and activities before booking them. Tell them you are shopping for the best deal. Get them to compete for your business.

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