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camping-webRISMEDIA, May 25, 2009-With Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer quickly winding down, the summer vacation season is now in full swing. While many families aren’t giving up their vacation plans, they are looking for ways to cut vacation costs.

Bills.com offers these tips to make vacation a little easier on your wallet:

1. Save money ahead of time. Brainstorm resources that you can set aside to pay for your vacation: rebates, birthday money, bonuses, garage sale proceeds, money from cashing in change, or profits from eBay sales can help. For future trips, include vacation costs in your annual budget and save a portion each month.

2. Pick your season. Some spots are much cheaper in the off season. For instance, if you plan to head to the beach, you might have as much fun and catch lower rates during the dog-days of mid-summer rather than during the popular winter season.

3. Consider a city. Those visiting a city might be able to get by with public transportation instead of a car rental, saving hundreds of dollars. Using shuttles or public transit can avoid the need to hire an airport taxi.

4. Plan far ahead. Order plane tickets well in advance of a trip for the best prices. Additionally, try traveling and visiting attractions mid-week to save a bundle and avoid crowds.

5. Consider all-inclusive. Sometimes, all-inclusive vacations offer great values, from a cruise to a resort to a dude ranch. Look at the costs of meals, beverages and excursions to decide if an offer is a good deal.

6. Save with a home away from home. Save money on lodging and meals by renting or trading for an apartment or condominium. You will be able to prepare your own meals and spread out in more space than a hotel. Trade homes with a friend or relative, rent or trade through a reputable home exchange, or housesit to save big on a longer stay.

7. Eat in. For a hotel stay, request a room with a microwave and refrigerator. Bring simple non-breakable dishes and make your own breakfast (such as cereal or yogurt), dinner (salad or frozen meals) or snacks. Make sandwiches in the morning, and then eat just one meal a day out to save significantly – and spend more time out enjoying the sights instead of sitting in restaurants.

8. Drink water. Bring your own water bottle to save resources and money. Refrain from ordering soda or, especially, alcoholic beverages at every meal to save money and calories.

9. Go coupon crazy. Before leaving home, go online to select activities you might want to do at your destination. Then search the Web for your activity and the word “coupon.” Many places offer two-for-one, free lunch, kids-free or percentage-off coupons online. Print these and bring them along to save.

10. Strategize souvenirs. Instead of buying souvenirs at a tourist gift shop, visit a large discount retailer. In many areas, these stores have a good selection of T-shirts, mugs, magnets and postcards- at much lower prices. Or purchase something you will enjoy later, like local foods, craft supplies or a needed household item that will remind you of your trip.

11. Take a “staycation.” Staying home eliminates lodging costs, and can be rejuvenating. Visit tourist sites in your hometown that you have never seen, eat at a restaurant you always wanted to try, or order in.

12. Camp out. The cheapest lodgings often come when you bring your own roof. Campgrounds are available near amusement parks, beaches and scenic areas. Expand your definition of “camping” to include RVs, rustic cabins and even yurts. “Rough it” so you can splurge on an activity, from a simple hike to a wild ride at an amusement park. Visit a state park near your hometown or in a destination you have longed to visit.

13. Walk. The best way to see a new place is to experience it. Wear comfortable shoes and take a walking tour or just explore. It is good exercise- and will not break the bank.

For more information, visit www.bills.com.

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