You know what they say, “April showers bring May flowers”? Well, May is almost here and in most areas, it is still raining and still pretty cold.  You’ve worked hard at work, your kids are almost done with school, and a Caribbean cruise is sounding pretty good right about now.

However, with this Summer travel bug, come expenses. While planning, the idea of a vacation starts to sound a little more daunting than you would have hoped. Luckily, we have complied 8 ideas to help you save a little extra cash and still enjoy some fun in the sun.

1. First things first: Plan ahead and save up!                                                                                                                               

While a spontaneous getaway may sound enticing, what’s even better is the ability to go on a week long vacation and not worry where you’re going to get the cash to do it. If you plan a trip well in advanced, you are better able to plan for how much money you will need and when you need to have it by. Saving just a little bit of money each month can eventually get you to where you need to be. Set aside a pre-determined amount of each paycheck in addition to emergency savings. And, if you happen to come across anything extra, you can add it to your stash. You can even borrow from what you would usually plan to spend on entertainment – which in the end, is well worth it!

2. ALWAYS check for deals and discounts online:

Growing up, I was embarrassed because my dad was always trying to get a better deal (a lot of you may relate?). But, as I’ve grown, I’ve realized it is actually the best way to live. Checking for deals can often be the biggest money-saver! You can find deals on hotels, flights, local attractions, and events through sites like Travelzoo, LivingSocial, and Groupon.

3. Know what you’re paying for.

What is included in your vacation package? Sometimes, you might pay more for a hotel room per night, but it might have included “freebies” like WiFi, in-house restaurants, pool access, etc. Things you might otherwise have to pay for at another hotel. For example, we paid a little more for a hotel in Hawaii, but it included food, pool access, towels, WiFi, and beach access. Always compare offers to see where you can get the most bang for your buck.

4. Travel during the off-season or during the week instead of the weekends.

Rates are often the most expensive during high-travel times; it’s common for people to take a week-long summer vacation or an extended weekend during the rest of the year. But, hotels usually have lower rates for Sunday-Thursday stays. Also avoid traveling over a holiday as rates will most likely be higher.

5. Consider a last-minute destination.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should take a spur-of-the-moment vacation, you should still use the money you set aside for planned travel; Although contradictory to #1, a lot of sites offer package deals on flight and hotel stays that require you to purchase and travel right away, or by a certain date – sometimes this is within the new few months, occasionally the next few weeks. Traveling this way might have more restrictions on where and when you go. But, if you just want to go to the Caribbean and you don’t care where or what island you go to, you will end up going wherever you can get the most bang for your buck. BUT, at least you are traveling.

6. Opt to cook for yourself instead of dining out.

This past Christmas my entire family went to Hawaii. We saved a lot of money by hitting the local Costco and buying Breakfast, Lunch and some dinners ahead of time. Another option was splitting up. Half eating in, half eating out. Even if you’re not necisarilly “cooking” on a stove. Instead of going out for all meals, limit yourself to only a few meals out at a restaurant. It’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while (I mean, it IS a vacation), but dining out frequently will really drain your wallet.

7. Bring some friends.

consider planning a joint vacation with a few friends or family members to split the costs of lodging, food, etc. Having buddies around that like to do similar things can make vacation even more fun. It’s also a great way to squeeze in a little extra quality time together.

8. Can’t afford to get away? “Stay-cations” can be just as fun!

Sometimes actually getting away can just be too expensive and time consuming. But, if you were to schedule some time off and explore what’s close to you, whether it’s a local park, nearby museum, or even a new restaurant. Staying closer to home eliminates a lot of travel expenses (flights, hotels, etc.). You might even find some free local festivals or discount days/times offered by local attractions.