If you've already started planning your summer vacation, you've probably noticed that your dollar won't take you as far as it used to.
Hotel rates are at record highs. The same goes for gas prices. Even some airfares to popular destinations seem to be taking off.
But vacation inflation doesn't have to spoil your next getaway. Here are five secrets that will save you hundreds of dollars - and hundreds of headaches - on your next vacation:
1. Steer clear of the crowds. This summer, as throngs of vacationers head to the beach, why not plot a course for the mountains?
Traditional winter resorts lower their prices dramatically during the offseason. (This works the other way around during the winter, when beach resorts are on sale.) You could cut the price of your vacation in half.
2. Beat high gas prices by flying. With fuel prices near $3 a gallon in some cities, taking a car on vacation can be costly.
If you're making a long-distance trip, consider flying. Do the math, and in some cases, you'll find that it's cheaper to take a plane. This option doesn't just save money, but also time.
3. Look for lodging alternatives. Whether you're staying with friends, pitching a tent or renting an apartment, chances are you'll save a bundle compared to the sky-high hotel bill you'll get at the end of your summer vacation. How much? Up to 40 percent or more.
4. Get picky about restaurant food. Don't eat every meal at a restaurant. Savvy travelers usually choose lunch as their meal out because the food prices are lower than on the dinner menus. Then they buy groceries and prepare a meal in their room. That can save the average family more than $100 a day in food bills.
5. Use a travel agent. A trusted travel professional is your best bet for finding a money-saving, inflation-fighting vacation.
Agents have great leads on terrific getaways that won't break the bank, like package tours, cruises and all-inclusive resort vacations. A good agent can cut hundreds, even thousands, of dollars from the cost of a family vacation.
With a little planning and research - and choosing when to save and when to splurge - you can avoid vacation inflation and have a terrific getaway.
Christopher Elliott is the host of "What You Get For The Money: Vacations" on Fine Living TV Network.
Written by : NewsUSA