This winter, phrases like "polar vortex" and "snowmageddon" became part of the American vernacular, and with good reason: The Free Press reports that many regions experienced record-breaking cold and snowfall, especially in the Eastern and Southern United States. Now that temperatures are finally starting to climb, one might expect Americans to stage a mass migration to sunny beaches or island resorts. There's just one problem: Vacations are expensive and funds are in short supply.


A Harris Interactive survey conducted last year found that one-third of Americans were shelving their summer travel plans for economic reasons. The Associated Press notes that though the economy is generally better this year, travel costs are increasing, making it a bit of a wash. What is a weary, winter-stricken summerphile to do? With some creative budgeting -- and a hefty dose of research -- you may be able to swing that dream vacation without completely breaking the bank. Here are seven excellent ways to start.

1. Earmark your tax return

Americans fortunate enough to get a tax refund this year might consider putting those funds towards their summer travel plans. We suggest waiting until closer to your trip to deposit your refund so that you are less likely to dip into it. If your refund is deposited into your bank account electronically, consider sheltering it in a separate savings or money market account. MSN Money reports that vacationers heading overseas -- Europe especially -- can actually make the tax code work for them by saving their receipts and filing for a value-added tax (VAT) refund.

2. Mix business and pleasure

All work and no play may make some people dull, but doing a little of both while on vacation can pay off long term. The benefit is two-fold: First, workers can minimize the number of vacation days they take, rolling more days over to next year's vacation stash, or getting a heftier end-of-year check if their employers reimburse unused time off. (Note: Company policies vary, so check with HR to find out how your employer handles unused vacation days.) Second, turning necessary business travel (think: that three-day conference in Orlando) into a side-vacation can make some travel expenses tax-deductible. Forbes notes that this benefit is especially applicable to self-employed workers and small business owners.

3. Let your credit card points accumulate

Many credit cards offer cash-back rewards on certain purchases, say one percent for shopping at certain stores or three percent on gas. Often one has to actually claim those rewards to access them, either online or by phoning customer service, so they are truly out of sight, out of mind. Make that inconvenience work for you by simply accruing these perks and cashing them out a couple of weeks before your trip. Note that some credit card companies offer frequent flier miles or other travel-related perks, like free travel or rental car insurance. Contact your credit card directly to learn more about any special programs that could whittle down your travel costs.

4. Use budgeting apps

It can be tricky enough tracking your expenses without having to budget for an upcoming vacation. U.S. News & World Report recommends using a financial planning app, like Mint, to make this simpler. There are also a number of money-saving apps, such as Cartwheel by Target or Food On The Table, which matches local grocery deals with recipes, that can help you save on the go, cushioning your travel budget.

5. Think outside the (cable) box

It is no secret that cable can be a budget drain, especially if you pay for hundreds of channels you never watch. Mint recommends cutting the cable and directing those savings into your vacation fund. Canceling cable or satellite does not necessarily mean you have to miss your favorite shows: Several services, like Hulu and Netflix, let you stream movies and television shows online for a fraction of the cost you pay your cable provider each month. Many game consoles and neat streaming gadgets, such as Roku or Apple TV, allow viewers to stream these services directly to their TVs. Digital antennas are another budget-friendly way to watch local networks and public broadcasting.

6. Buy out of season

Buying in season may pay off at the produce aisle, but not on flights and hotel rooms. According to Business Insider, the peak U.S. travel season is the second and third week of August, so hotel and other travel costs tend to be higher around then. By delaying your trip a few weeks, you can shave hundreds of dollars off your vacation tab.

7. Research, research, research

When it comes to budgeting for (and saving on) summer vacations, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned research. Look to online travel cost-comparison or deal-tracking websites to save on travel, lodging and even meals. You can also look up restaurant menus and attraction costs at your destination to get a reasonable sense for how much you should expect to spend there, reducing the likelihood of completely blowing your budget (and racking up tabs on high-interest credit cards).

"Long, Cold & Snowy Here; Rain & That on the Tundra There," The Free Press, April 3, 2014, Christine Parrish, http://freepressonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=52&SubSectionID=78&ArticleID=31610
"One-Third of Americans Less LIkely To Travel This Summer Due to Economy," PR Newswire, June 19, 2013, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/one-third-of-americans-less-likely-to-travel-this-summer-due-to-economic-outlook-212108271.html
"How to save money on your summer vacation hotels," Associated Press, April 2, 2014, Scott Mayerowitz, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/how-save-money-your-summer-vacation-hotels
"Get a tax refund from your vacation," MSN Money, September 1, 2011, Jeff Schnepper, http://money.msn.com/taxes/get-a-tax-refund-from-your-vacation-jeff-schnepper
"Own a Business? Here's How to Write Off Your Next Vacation," Forbes, March 3, 2014, Nellie Alkalp, http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2014/03/03/how-to-write-off-your-next-vacation/2/
"7 Easy Ways to Save for Your Big Summer Vacation," U.S. News & World Report, February 25, 2014, Sabah Karimi, http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/02/25/7-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-big-summer-vacation
"5 Tips That Will Get You Closer To Your Dream Vacation," Business Insider, June 29, 2013, Laura Brothers, http://www.businessinsider.com/tips-plan-an-affordable-summer-vacation-2013-6
"14 Ways to Save $1,000 by the Summer," Mint, February 17, 2014, https://www.mint.com/blog/saving/14-ways-to-save-1000-by-the-summer-0214/

Pursue your Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked #12 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
  • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
  • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked 33rd among the Best Grad Schools for Social Work in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Founded in 1904 as the nation’s first institute of higher learning to offer training for clinical social workers.
  • Provides a rigorous education, including a nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) Program and PhD in Social Work.  
  • Offers inventive programs with hands-on experience.  
  • Incorporates social justice values and multicultural perspectives into curriculum. 
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Take classes from award-winning faculty online or from one of our three campuses
  • Scholarships are available to qualifying students, including the Presidential Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship, Hamel Scholarship, and many more
  • Choose from 200+ undergraduate and graduate degree programs to pursue
  • Online graduate programs include: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Educational Studies (MEd), and Master of Social Work (MSW)
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses