Save hundreds of dollars on summer trips

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - Families in America plan to go into debt to pay for various summer expenses.

According to a recent survey by NerdWallet, 71 percent of parents with kids under 18 who are planning to take a vacation say they’ll put an average of $1,019 on their credit card to cover travel costs.  So, how do you save some money?  The first thought is to stretch your thinking in order to stretch your dollar.

"Too many people think they have to stay in a hotel when they are traveling.  Oftentimes, you can find free camping spots or camping that's really inexpensive.  You can go to a variety of camping websites to find different camping spots," said consumer saving expert Andrea Woroch.

Camping doesn't mean you have to be way up in the woods.  Often, cities offer campsites that are very close by.   That allows people to do their camping, then go to the nearby cities and see what they have to offer for attractions.  That method alone can save you hundreds of dollars and it can be fun.  What's not fun is paying full price.

"Buying tickets can get really expensive, so look online for discount admission days for whatever attraction you visit this summer.  Those discounts apply to most zoo's, botanical gardens or museums," said Woroch.

When it comes to going to a theme park or water park, book your tickets online and in advance.  Many museums, zoos and botanical gardens, for instance, offer free or discount admissions on certain days of the week that you can research in advance on the organization’s website.   You can also check with your own company to see if they offer discounts to local attractions.   Even your local library sometimes has passes that you can check out for free for nearby museums and local attractions so you can visit for no cost at all.

You can also find free activities if  you're doing a "staycation" in town.  Some retailers like Home Depot offer free workshops for kids one Saturday each month.  Families can also look for savings on movie matinees or go midweek as you can often get up to 50% off tickets along with deals on concessions. Many theaters host summertime programs for families, offering $1 movie screenings of kid-friendly flicks.  Check out Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse and Regal's Summer Movie Express for showings.

Another way to save up for a summer trip is by not spending as much on your summer necessities.   It's the season for backyard barbecues and this may require a new grill, patio furniture and other outdoor entertaining items.  Although shopping at the end of the season is the best way to save, sometimes you need these items now.

If that’s the case, you can save big—up to 70% off by looking for secondhand options through Facebook Marketplace.  That's where you can find gently-used patio tables, lounge chairs, barbecues and more. The site makes it easy to communicate with sellers through the Messenger app.