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article imageOp-Ed: 5 money-saving tips for summer travelers

By Jason Bushey     Jun 10, 2013 in Business
For summer vacationers that hate to spend and love to save, here are five money-saving tips to keep your summer vacation budget in the black.
Whether you're gearing up for summer fun with friends or family, there's a good chance that your budget will play one of the biggest roles in what you do - and don't do - come vacation time.
For the frugal summer traveler hoping to save at every turn during their upcoming adventures, here are 5 money saving tips to make you look savvy this summer...
1.) Keep a cooler full of snacks and water
Keeping a well-stocked cooler is crucial for a number of reasons. First, it's hot out there. Pack more water than you need just to be safe. As for frugal-friendly foods, trail mix, nuts, crackers and the like are all solid alternatives to the fast food restaurants that you're sure to encounter at countless exits along the open road.
Save your cash, pack smart and keep your car on the road (rather than the drive-thru) by packing a cooler.
2.) Consider the credit cards you're using
Depending on what kinds of cards you carry in your wallet, you may already be privy to some serious summer savings so long as you know which cards to use and when.
For instance, some credit cards offer bonus cash back on gas station purchases (beginning July 1, Discover it is one such card), while others specialize in cash back on grocery purchases (Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, for example). Other cards will offer double cash back or points on travel and dining purchases.
If you already have a cash back card, research and take note of the items that can save you the most per card. Or if you're thinking about opening up a new card this summer, consider budgeting the purchases you're most likely to make on your summer travels anyway, go online to research credit card reviews for these specific items using websites like Credit Karma or, and apply for a card that fits your lifestyle and your credit score.
Five percent cash back on gas might not seem like much, but that's 5 cents a dollar and nearly 20 cents per gallon. Add that up over the course of a summer road trip and those are some serious savings!
3.) Put together a "Must-Do" list
You know what sidetracks a summer vacation? Reaching your destination late because you wandered off the beaten path in search of those allegedly hidden gems that are hardly few and far between (and rarely worth it).
If your summer vacation is set to put you on the open road, be sure to map out your must-see attractions ahead of time. Not only will this keep your summer vacation on schedule, it will also keep you from making unnecessary and unplanned purchases.
Staying on schedule can mean staying within your budget. Get organized and stick to the plan on your summer road trip.
4.) Get cozy
This should be easy for the family and friends traveling together that really love each other! Or at the very least can stand to sleep in close quarters.
Double the hotel rooms means double the costs of accommodations. Every savvy traveler knows that a strategic blow-up mattress and a couple of sleeping bags can make a real difference when it comes to hotel costs.
Or if you're on a "real" outdoor adventure, pack the tent and spend an evening in the much-cheaper confines of an outdoor campground. The cost of a reserving a spot outdoors and raising a tent is a fraction of what you'll pay at a hotel, and more often than not makes for a memorable story and some good conversation.
Just be sure to seal the food off from any unwanted guests. And yes, we mean bears.
5.) Get acquainted with local public transit
If you're visiting a big city especially, getting familiar with the local public transit system is an easy way to save big chunk of change. New York City, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco all offer fast, affordable transportation for summer vacationers brave enough to give it a go.
Using the local public transit isn't just cheap - it's also an experience. What's NYC without hopping on the subway, or San Francisco without a ride in a cable car? From the moment you hop off the plane in some of America's most famous locales, you're likely to be given the option of public transit versus a cab, van or car fare. Subway or bus fare makes for a huge money-saver, and will have you feeling like a local in no time.
While the above money-saving tips might not be right for every vacation this summer, thinking frugally and staying within your means are. Save your money for what matters most this summer, keep the unnecessary purchases to a minimum and enjoy the best season of the year!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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