‘Tis the season of sunny days, which means there is no better time to take a trip to the place of your dreams. Planning such a trip should be one of the best feelings, especially as it gets closer and closer to the planned dates. For many people, however, these vacations often end up as a source of stress because of the expense. Fortunately, though, there are plenty of ways to plan an affordable summer vacation that helps you destress, unwind, and enjoy the moment without fretting over bills.

Start Early

When looking at how to plan an affordable vacation, it is always best to start as early as possible. If you know you want to have a debt free summer next year and enjoy a little trip, spend at least 9 months planning. This will give you time to save money so you are not scrambling at the last minute to figure out how you will afford everything. Additionally, you can use your vacation as a gift idea to family and friends over the holidays. Ask for vacation clothes, coupons, or even simply money towards your trip fund.

Set a Spending Limit

To truly have an affordable summer vacation you have to know what you can afford. Take some time to go over your income and expenses from now until a month or so after your planned vacation. Once you see all of your bills and mandatory expenses and how much money you will have after those are paid, you can begin to shift around how you will save up. It is especially important to look at these numbers for the time after your vacation as well, as many people tend to overspend while on vacation, forgetting that they have rent, mortgage, or utilities due the week after their return.

Once you have determined exactly how much you can spend on the vacation, stick to it. It also may help to use cash on the vacation and leave the credit cards at home. When you only use cash, you have a finite amount and it often works as a tangible reminder to people to be weary of excessive vacation spending and stay on track.

Seek Out Low-Cost Activities

To help with this safe spending limit, it is always a good idea to plan your activities ahead of time. You do not have to plan every single moment, but by planning the bigger activities earlier, you can often get great deals and save a little money in the process. A major component of how to plan an affordable vacation successfully is knowing what parts of the vacation will fit into your budget.

Consider looking at low-cost day trip excursions, free local festivals, public beaches, holiday events, and even low-cost shopping. If you are more of an adventure seeker, call around to different companies that you are interested in doing something with and see if they are willing to beat competitor pricing. It may not always work, but many times, companies are very willing to work with you to make sure they earn your business.

Bunk Up

Families everywhere are on a mission to have the ultimate affordable summer vacation, which may make it easier for your family to be successful in doing so. If you are taking your family on a vacation, see if there are any other families you know that are planning to do the same. Avoiding debt this summer can be as simple as sharing costs with others. Families often want to go to similar places and do similar things on trips, so you may be able to work together to split a hotel or cabin as well as car fare.

If you are an individual, you can try to do a similar option. See if any of your friends are willing to split the cost of an Airbnb, hotel room, and food during the trip. Simply doing this can help you save hundreds of dollars on a trip that can be used for other activities or just to save some money.

Book a Spot with a Kitchen

When you are trying to learn how to plan an affordable vacation, always remember the basic needs you will need to meet on the trip. The largest part of any vacation budget tends to revolve around food. If you are going to a popular tourist area especially, food can be very expensive, and those who have families of four or five can easily spend $500 a day on food alone between meals and treats.

Consider staying in a spot where you have a kitchen or microwave for some of your meals. Many condos, bed and breakfasts, and AirBnB’s are a great option to do this. Then you can take a trip to a grocery store on the first day of your trip and stock up on granola bars, cereal, sandwiches, and other food and snack items so you can spend less money on eating out and more money on experiencing various activities on the trip.

Seek a Planning Expert

Whenever in doubt about a financial decision or planning, it is always best to reach out to someone you can trust. Liberty Debt Relief’s debt relief specialists, for example, can provide some great insight on how you can eliminate your debt today with a debt relief program so you can start planning for your vacation tomorrow. They will help you comb through your budget, income, and expenses and can provide you with plenty of trusted resources so that you can effectively plan for the trip of your dreams without furthering your debt.

Summer is the best time to share new experiences with your loved ones. Don’t let those experiences come with the cost of lowering your financial stability. Start planning your affordable summer vacation now and have a trip that you — and your wallet — will be thankful for the rest of your life.