Just because a big vacation is not in your budget, doesn't mean you have to stay housebound. There are many affordable vacation ideas out there, for those interested in a little local entertainment. These four ideas can help you find a cheap vacation to accommodate your finances. (Whether you're placing trades with your broker or standing in line at the grocery store - the world of finance is never far from your thoughts. Learn to stay close to the markets all year round, in Top 9 Vacation Destinations For Wall Street Geeks.)
In Pictures: Vacation Savings Tips

  1. The Beach in Your Backyard
    Instead of hopping on a plane to an island destination, try driving to a beach near you. The East Coast is lined with beaches and boardwalks from Martha's Vineyard and Virginia Beach to Hilton Head, SC and Miami. West coast beaches include Huntington Beach and several near San Diego. There are also plenty of beaches to choose from along the Gulf Coast as well as in Canada.

  2. Your Coastal Complement on this Continent
    Why fly overseas to another country when you can take advantage of the North American continent? Write down the attractions you are traveling to see and find a complimentary venue in your region. Living on the East Coast and thinking about a trip to Las Vegas? Save some money and drive to Atlantic City. Other destinations with casinos include Niagara Falls, Kansas City and New Orleans. If you are looking to visit a big city, swap New York City for Los Angeles. For mountains, consider swapping between the Rockies and the Appalachians. You can experience similar scenery without spending as many greenbacks. (A short vacation can give you a boost in energy and allow you to recharge your batteries for work. Find out more, in Rejuvenate Your Life And Career With A Sabbatical.)

  3. Trade a Cruise for the Ferry
    Instead of taking a cruise and making several quick stops, visit two destinations for as long as you like and ride the waves while avoiding the drama of getting seasick. Ferries offer a relatively cheap way to transport you, your family, your luggage and your car from one venue to the next.

    Some popular ferries include the Cape May-Lewes Ferry (New Jersey to Delaware), the Rocky-Hill Glastonbury Ferry (Connecticut) and the Columbia River Ferry (Oregon to Washington). Some popular pedestrian only ferries include the Toronto Island Ferry and New Orleans Steamboat Cruise.

  4. Try a Regular Park for your Amusement
    Admission to popular amusement parks can top $50 per person. Try visiting a state or national park for a fraction of the price. Some popular national parks include Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Arizona/Nevada), the Everglades (Florida) and the Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina/Virginia), which makes for a nice scenic route to several local attractions. Check the calendars for your city, state or regional parks office to find out what tours and activities are available this summer. Also check to see if advance registration is required to reserve your spots.

Tips for a Cheaper Trip
Avoid holidays
Peak air travel surcharges were added to dates around holidays, however many airlines have attached these surcharges to the majority of dates during the summer season. Many of the major airlines have attached the highest charge of $30 one-way, to Sundays in July and August.

Choose your Travel Dates Wisely
According to farecompare.com, flights departing early in the morning on Tuesday and Wednesday typically offer the cheapest fares. If you are looking to save money, then Sunday flights should be avoided.

Pack Light – Avoid Fees from Airlines
Transporting "extra" baggage has become a luxury add-on for airline travelers. Fees for extra bags can reach as high as $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second checked bag. Overweight bag fees can range from $39-200 depending on the airline, so be sure to check the weight limits before you pack. It may be more cost effective to pack two smaller bags as opposed to one large one.

The Bottom Line
Summer is the season for vacations. A tight budget should not prevent you from enjoying your time off. Instead of staying home, explore cheaper alternatives that can provide you with equally good times for substantially lower costs.

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Unrelenting Claw Of Bernie Madoff.

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