Times are getting tough out there, and the steady increases in the cost of a gallon of gas and the prices at the grocery store are forcing people to look for ways to save money. Vacation costs need to be kept to a minimum in times like these.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can cut down vacation costs and still get a great break away from it all to a dream destination. This guide should give you all the travel hacks you need to make your dollar go further when you are planning your next vacation.

Budget For Every Expense

If you plan ahead, you can save a lot of money on the little things. To get the most out of your vacation dollar, book in advance and take advantage of discount offers to build your travel itinerary.

This is true of hotel rooms, flights, events and theme parks, and even parking. If you plan on passing through California, check out the San Jose Airport parking information at Parkway Parking. With Parkway Parking you can book a spot early and make huge savings on airport parking all across the country.

Food is another expense that can soon mount up, especially if you are eating between connecting flights at an airport. You can buy annual airport lounge passes for many domestic airlines and use their lounge for free at many major airports. Pick the right membership and you can eat for free, stock up on snacks, and use the free wi-fi when you have a layover.

Plan How To Spend Your Money On Vacation

People often add an extra expense to their vacation budget if they are traveling overseas. Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for just about anything you need on your trip but can come with hidden costs.

When credit card companies make currency exchanges, they will often use inflated rates that give you poor value for your money every time you spend. They also will add a charge for making the exchange. If you plan on using credit cards on your vacation, look for one that uses low rates on foreign currency exchange, without any added charges on your foreign spending.

This can significantly raise your overseas vacation budget by giving you more pesos, pounds, and euros for every dollar. You also get the added security features and convenience that come from using a credit card to make purchases.

Be Flexible On Dates And Destinations

The best way to make big savings when booking your vacations is to be flexible. The more open you are to all the options available, the more cash you will have in your pocket when you reach your destination.

Flash sales and last-minute deals can help you turn a small budget into an exclusive luxury vacation if you can time it right. You can get a Caribbean Island getaway for less than half price, or a resort holiday on a Hawaiian beach if you keep an eye on discount deal websites.

Just having ballpark dates in mind and being willing to travel on any day and at any time, can lead to big savings on flights. If you are prepared to spend a day in the air and shuffling between a few different airport lounges, there are great deals from airlines on journeys that make a few connections.

Direct flights from one hub to another cost more, especially if one is in a popular vacation destination like Florida or California. If you make a bunch of connections with a multi-city flight between your home airport and your destination, you can slash these prices in half or more.

The travel time will take longer, and you may go a few hours in the wrong direction, but you can put a lot of extra money in your vacation budget with this hack

Look For AirBnBs As Well As Hotel Rooms

The vacation accommodation market is highly competitive. The great deals you can get on hotels are fueled by the pressure they are feeling from services like AirBnB. Do not forget to check your destination for private accommodation in the area.

You could find a quirky holiday rental that suits your style and helps you save money on your vacation food and drink with its own kitchen and dining spaces. Renting an apartment or home for a few days instead of a hotel can help to make a trip a unique and special experience and be more convenient and secure.

When you are budgeting your accommodation costs, remember to account for the savings a private rental can help you to make, and the extra expenses that can come with a hotel stay. Balancing these costs and savings gives you a more accurate idea of the pros and cons of each type of accommodation.

Make The Most Of Free Tourist Attractions

Wherever you decide to go, if you want to get out of your hotel, resort, or private AirBnB, you are going to spend some money.  Cut down on the costs of visiting tourist attractions by visiting free places of interest. Just because it is free does not mean it is not worth visiting.  Many local governments and tourism authorities will spend public money to make places of interest, museums, art galleries, and local parks free to everyone. You can have a great day out without having to pay any admission fees, and if you pack a lunch you can save on food costs and have a picnic for lunch.

In popular tourist destinations, you can even find free or subsidized municipal transport. This can save you spending money on Ubers or local cabs that may take a long route to pump up the fare. Travel like the locals do and make use of buses, trains, and streetcars to explore towns and cities.

Combine these hacks together to create a cash-saving strategy that will get you the vacation you want, for less.  Getting away from it all for a while does not have to stretch your finances even in the current economic climate. Try just one or two of these tips, and you will be back for more.