The All-Important Summer Vacation

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

As summer approaches prime time vacation season heralds its arrival as well. Enjoy the trip without the aching wallet with some planning.

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Avoid the Popular Crowd

The rule of supply and demand states that the more popular the location the more it can and most likely will charge for admission. Avoid the popular destinations by finding the same type of destinations closer and cheaper. For instance, the beach at Ocean City, MD is overly booked during the summer months, but lesser known Dewey Beach, DE is not.

The More the Merrier

Likewise, look for group packages in popular destinations. Often by gathering a group of friends, running a church group, or organizing a family reunion the price of admission to several historic locations as well as amusement parks around the country is significantly lower.

Sometimes it's not just more people which lower the cost; it's more stops. Many national parks offer the option of buying a park pass which guarantees entrance into several parks for one price. Some historic tours do the same. For example, by purchasing a National Parks Pass the bearer is allowed admission to any National Park across the country. While the pass itself costs $50, many parks cost as much as $20 to enter.

Amusement Park Savings

Popular with families are the amusement park vacations, yet these can be quite expensive. Take the above advice and search for a lesser known but family friendly amusement park. Parks that charge per ride rather than entrance benefit those who ride less, and usually an all-day pass is offered for those who ride more. Again, try to organize a group and enter at the group rate. By reserving a pavilion, the group gets a cheaper entrance rate and often a meal is included in the package.

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Plan the visit to the park for after hours. Not only are lines down because most bus tours leave after five, but the rates drop significantly. Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA charges $34 for a day's entrance, but starlight entrance into the amusement park (Wildwater Kingdom closes at dark) is $18.

Location is Everything

With gas prices taking a large chunk of the vacation budget, opt for closer vacations. There is no prerequisite of an all day drive to make it a family vacation. Search for local getaways instead. Search for church festivals and local carnivals that will interest the family.

As important as location is, timing is crucial to savings as well. Check off-season prices for hotels at the shore. Often by leaving a week earlier, one can avoid the increased "summer rate." This can save $100 per night in some areas.

Regardless of what you do for your summer vacation, remember to plan ahead. Rather than charging this year's vacation, keep this one small and put away for a longer vacation next year. By putting away $20 a week, a fine summer vacation can be had next year.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at Englishteach@rcn.com or visit her website at http://users.rcn.com/wesavedamutt/Writer

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