Vacations on a budget

Matera Austin
Matera Austin

By Mark Bullock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - With the economy in the tank, vacations are not an option for some people.

"More than likely I will stay at home this summer," said would-be traveler Cecil Nix. "I'll just stay at home."

But if a day at the beach sounds good to you, there are ways to pinch pennies.

"Do your research," explained Matera Austin, a resource management expert for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "Lots of hotels are offering deals because they're trying to get people in."

Austin recommends starting your search on the Internet. Sites like Travel Zoo and Last Minute Travel show you which destinations are the cheapest right now.

Signing up for email lists can also help. We signed up at Resort Quest, a company that rents beach condos, and got a buy-one, get-one-free offer in our in-box.

"Call them if you're not Internet savvy, but I like the Internet because they post deals on there that they don't advertise," Austin said.

She also says to be sure and ask about promotions. For example, some hotels offer free tickets to nearby attractions.

"You'd be surprised with what you might get by just asking!"

We also talked to travelers who say various cruises are on sale these days.

"They were having trouble filling up the boat on the cruise I am going on," Todd Weeks told us. "And we got a nice room, too!"

If you enjoy the outdoors, camping and fishing are some of the cheapest trips of all. Dean Cooper knows that first hand.

"Down at Gunter Hill, you can camp for $18/day," she told us.

If you fly, booking early saves you cash. And remember, nowadays you pay extra for extra luggage. So pack light.

Here are some other tips:

  • Join AAA Auto Club for all sorts of travel discounts.
  • Sign up for a rewards credit card to build points towards your next vacation.
  • Choose a destination where you can stay free with relatives.

One final way to save is on your food costs. Instead of eating out for lunch, make sandwiches in your room. And if you're traveling with children, look for hotels and restaurants where kids eat free.

Look for more links to discount travel opportunities above.