6 tips for saving big on summer vacation plans

More than half of Americans left vacation time unused in 2015. (Thinkstock)
Summer is just around the corner, and if you’re hoping to plan a big trip for a small amount, consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch has a few tips make your budget-friendly vacation feel like a million bucks. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/NZswissmedia)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  A general view of atmosphere is seen at Airbnb's Hello LA event at The Grove on September 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Airbnb)
Book a home over a hotel  Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an international adventure, booking a home or an apartment can save you hundreds — especially if your family requires more than one hotel room. Popular accommodation sites, such as Airbnb and HomeAway, allow users to search for rental options around the globe by size, location and price range, making it easy to find a place big enough for your group of 10, or cozy enough for you and a travel buddy. “This gives you more of that intimate vacation experience, where you can really build those lasting memories with your family,” Woroch said. Don’t leave this to the last minute. Woroch says the best spots are typically booked up about 90 days in advance. (Chris Weeks/Getty Images) (Chris Weeks)
CAPTION ADDITION, ADDS CREDIT TO MARTHA STEWART LIVING  This photo provided by Martha Stewart Living and The Home Depot shows a built-in desk in the kitchen, designed to match the rest of the kitchen. The era of the "super kitchen'' has arrived, say interior designers and trend-watchers: People are building or remodeling kitchens that include work and entertainment space, too. (Martha Stewart Living/Home Depot via AP)
The hidden savings of alternative accommodations  Staying in a home or an apartment not only increases your space, it also cuts down on some not-so-obvious costs. For starters, many vacation rentals come equipped with a kitchen. Stocking up on a few breakfast staples (coffee, yogurt, muffins) and some of your favorite snacks can minimize the amount you spend dining out. Take advantage of farmers markets and specialty shops to get a taste of the local culture. Finding a place that permits pets will allow your four-legged family member to tag along. It also means you can bank all that money you would have spent to board him or her. (Martha Stewart Living/Home Depot via AP) (AP)
SAN ANSELMO, CA - APRIL 21:  The Airbnb app is displayed on a smartphone on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. Online home-rental marketplace Airbnb Inc. is about to receive more than $450 million in investments from a group led by private-equity firm TPG. The new investments will value the startup at $10 billion, significantly higher than some publicly traded hotel chains. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Do your research  It’s understandable that those new to home rental sites may have some initial hesitations, but don’t let fear-of-the-unknown keep you from exploring this option. Both Airbnb and HomeAway have secure payment programs and 24/7 customer support. However, Woroch says you still need to do a bit of homework. If a place catches your eye, read the homeowner reviews from past guests. “The more reviews a home has, the better,” she said. If you have questions, reach out and speak directly with the homeowner via the site’s messaging platform or email. Not only will this provide peace of mind, but Woroch says owners are often eager to offer insider tips to their guests on where to eat, sites to see and the best transportation options. (Getty Images/Justin Sullivan) (Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
Let technology guide you  Want to hit the popular landmarks, but don’t want to splurge for a guided tour? There’s an app (or two!) for that. Woroch recommends EveryTrail, which offers 10 downloadable walking tours and hikes with turn-by-turn directions along the way, and Field Trip, which uses your current location to find nearby points-of-interest. “It also gives you information about historic sites or cool shops and nice restaurants to stop at,” Woroch said about Field Trip. (WTOP/Field Trip)
Sunrise over an Airplane Wing
Be flexible with travel dates  Woroch emphasizes that when it comes to saving money on travel, it’s really important to be flexible — especially with travel dates. Be open to traveling at a different time of the summer season than you originally planned, and consider starting your vacation midweek, instead of the weekend. “You’re looking at bigger crowds, more delays and even more expensive fuel costs because demand is up,” Woroch said about traveling on the weekend. Lodging costs will also be less expensive midweek than on weekends in the summer. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/deucee_)
Don't head out on your late summer road trip before checking out these few tips. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/paulprescott72)
Deals for wheels  If you’ll need a car once you get to your destination, doing a bit of bargain hunting ahead of time will pay off in the long run. Woroch recommends looking for coupons for rental companies on websites such as couponsherpa.com. Vacation planning is also a great opportunity to use your Costo membership for more than toilet paper in bulk. Woroch says many warehouse clubs offer travel deals for car rentals. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/paulprescott72)
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More than half of Americans left vacation time unused in 2015. (Thinkstock)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  A general view of atmosphere is seen at Airbnb's Hello LA event at The Grove on September 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Airbnb)
CAPTION ADDITION, ADDS CREDIT TO MARTHA STEWART LIVING  This photo provided by Martha Stewart Living and The Home Depot shows a built-in desk in the kitchen, designed to match the rest of the kitchen. The era of the "super kitchen'' has arrived, say interior designers and trend-watchers: People are building or remodeling kitchens that include work and entertainment space, too. (Martha Stewart Living/Home Depot via AP)
SAN ANSELMO, CA - APRIL 21:  The Airbnb app is displayed on a smartphone on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. Online home-rental marketplace Airbnb Inc. is about to receive more than $450 million in investments from a group led by private-equity firm TPG. The new investments will value the startup at $10 billion, significantly higher than some publicly traded hotel chains. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Sunrise over an Airplane Wing
Don't head out on your late summer road trip before checking out these few tips. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/paulprescott72)

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