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Summer is prime vacation time for most Americans. Whether they are planning a beach escape or a city adventure, everyone is looking for a little R&R.
However, one in three Americans say the lackluster economy is causing them to stay put this year.
For those who can afford to get away, they're on a tight budget. The average summer travelers will spend $1,665 on travel expenses this year, reports a study by Harris Interactive.
To help you stretch your dollar, we reached out to Mark Drusch, travel expert at CheapoAir for help. From airline tips to singling out off-peak destinations, Drusch's tips just might get you out of the office yet.
1. Don't travel at the peak, peak of summer. The second and third week of August are when the most people take their trips. If you can, travel before or after. You will save big on airfare and hotels. September is a great time to take advantage of back-to-school season, when resorts will start lowering rates to compensate for the lack of families.
2. Think outside the city. Planning a trip to a popular tourist destination means paying higher costs on everything from lodging to food. Try staying in a city close by and you could save loads. For example, find a cheap hotel in Baltimore, Md. if you're looking to visit Washington, D.C. It's a cheap train ride away. Or crash in Oakland, Calif. while you visit San Francisco. You get all of the fun, without the hiked up price.
3. Don't let airports suck you dry. Be smart and pack light. Baggage fees are no joke. Pack your clothes in a carry-on bag so you don't have to pay checked bag fees and bring food with you to snack on in-flight. Unfortunately, you'll have to cough up cash if you want a drink for the flight, but gift shops are generally lots cheaper than in-flight extras.
4. Visit counter-seasonal destinations. Southwestern states see more tourism in the winter, but it can be equally as enjoyable during the summer –– and lot more affordable. Book a hotel with a pool to cool off and enjoy the lower flight and hotel costs.
5. Finally, a no-brainer –– book everything well in advance. Whether it's a hotel or a flight, you'll pay less the further in advance you book. Drusch recommends booking a flight at least 45 days before you intend to travel. Also, use comparative sites to see the costs of airfare on competing airlines. For example, Tingo.com offers to match hotel rates if you book on their site and the hotel lowers their prices before your stay. Airfarewatchdog.com is a great place to track flight prices over certain periods of time, if you can be flexible.
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