The average American family takes approximately 4.5 trips per year, and at first glance it would seem that the rising levels of employment and consumer spending in the U.S. have the potential to boost these numbers further in 2012. This is not necessarily the case, as the most recent Travel Price Index rose by 3.6% during the last 12 months. Closely affiliated to the soaring price of gas and hotel prices, this rise in the cost of travel means that consumers must embrace new and innovative ways of saving money when booking summer vacations this year. If the initial task of saving money for a vacation seems to be difficult for you, check out Easy And Practical Ways To Save For A Vacation.

Shop Around
According to yStats.com's "Global Online Travel Report 2012," online travel bookings will represent almost a third of the total global volume by the end of this year. This trend is especially prevalent across the American continent, and research by Hotelmarketing.com suggests that the revenue generated by the online travel market in America is likely to grow significantly throughout 2012. Given this and the fact that nearly 50% of all travel products purchased in 2011 were acquired online, it is clear that consumers are turning towards the flexibility of Internet search engines to find efficient ways of accessing significant financial savings on travel expenditures.

Online shopping and eCommerce provide a unique opportunity for you as a consumer to save money in the world of travel, as it is an increasingly crowded market place where prices can be compared in a simple and time effective manner. The evolving trend of mCommerce is making the practice of price comparison even easier, and reflects the way in which modern consumers locate goods or services and pay for them. While mCommerce is yet to take a firm grasp of the travel market, a recent Amadeus report suggests that approximately 16% of individuals use smartphone devices to book their travel requirements, and this is set to rise further as consumers embrace the benefits of new media. (For the best coupon strategy for your online purchasing style, read What's Your Online Couponing Personality?)

Consider Home Swapping
Aside from changing the methods that are used to book a vacation, it may also be worth considering how the choice of location can influence your level of expenditure. Home swapping has emerged as one of the most innovative trends in travel during recent times, and refers to a practice where homeowners share their property and even family vehicles in exchange for those based in a specific and desired location. Not only does this afford you the opportunity to experience an affordable vacation, but it also gives you access to good quality facilities that can reduce the additional costs of catering and transportation.

SEE: 7 Ways To Save On Summer Getaways

There are numerous websites that offer this service, and many of these serve as online clubs that charge a one off fee for membership. Once registered, you can access the site and interact with fellow home-owners who wish to rent their home as accommodation, and save significant sums of money in the process of arranging their trip. Given that topstockanalysts.com stated the average American household spent an estimated $672 on vacation accommodations during the recession of 2009, this is a significant expenditure that can be negated by entering into a home sharing program.

Get Social
In May of last year, a study conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab Study suggested that 18% of consumers access social networking sites before they get out of bed in the morning. When you consider this and the fact that Facebook alone has more than 900 million global users, it is clear to see how social media has managed to become so influential as a consumer tool for selecting and purchasing goods. Booking travel arrangements is no exception, and contemporary social networks offer you access to first hand referrals from trusted sources, a vast knowledge base and exclusive promotions on summer getaways.

SEE: How Social Media Can Help Consumers Save Money

Social media resources are driven by real time interaction, and this has proven crucial to a brand's ability to interact with its consumers and create genuine fans and followers. Forward thinking hotels and venues are tapping into this trend, by offering room specials and promotions exclusively to fans who have liked their pages on Facebook and displayed a level of brand loyalty. By identifying potential hotels at your preferred destination, it is possible for you to interact with venues and benefit from significant discounts.

The Bottom Line
While consumer confidence in the U.S. reached a four-year high during April, its subsequent fall this month has suggested that you must still strive hard to find value for your money and seek out financial savings where possible. Fortunately for those of you who are looking to book a summer vacation, technological innovations such as mCommerce and social media have made bargain hunting easier and helped afford people access to a far greater range of potential destinations and discounts.

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