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How to experience a perfect vacation on a budget

Nov 9, 2011, 3:45 p.m.

Even in tough economic times, we all deserve to get away from it all. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can experience a great vacation on a budget. Here are some proven ways to cut your travel costs and still have a great time:

Take advantage of AARP discounts. Whether you decide to make a road trip to visit your daughter or to finally go on a Caribbean cruise, the discounts you can get as a senior citizen can save you hundreds on any trip. Go to the AARP website to find out more about senior savings on cruises, tours, roadside assistance, motels, etc.

Travel outside of the busy season. The busy--and therefore expensive--months are July and August for most summer destinations, while for ski vacations, that's mid-December through the end of February. However, if you travel a bit earlier or later, you an expect to save between 20 and 40 percent on flights and accommodations, depending on the destination.

Look for package deals. Package deals are nearly always cheaper than booking a flight and hotel separately. Take your time and go to budget travel websites to find great deals on a number of popular destinations around the world. Savings vary from 10 to 35 percent.

Home swap. Instead of a hotel, stay in somebody else's home while they stay in yours. Besides not having to budget for accommodations, you can also save on food if you choose to cook at home instead of dining out all the time.

No matter if it's a cruise, luxury resort, or wine tasting tour, with a bit of research, you can be sure to find the perfect trip for your budget!

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