Summer is in the air, and that vacation-y vibe seems to come along with it. But vacations can be expensive… and even more so with the cost of just about everything going up these days. But there are a few tips and tricks to help you plan a great trip that won’t leave you stressing about the cost. Here are some of our favorite travel savings hacks.

 1. Book it off-peak

One of the easiest ways to cut down on vacation costs is to travel during the off-peak season or on weekdays instead of weekends. Not only do prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions often drop during these times, but you’ll also benefit from fewer crowds and a more relaxed experience. Consider visiting popular destinations just before or after the peak summer months—think late May or early September. You’ll still enjoy fantastic weather and all the seasonal perks, without the peak season price tag.

 2. You don’t have to go too far

Who says you have to travel across the country to have a memorable vacation? Exploring nearby destinations, or visiting a state park within a couple of hours of where you live, can be just as exciting as jetting off to a faraway place. (Even a staycation can be a lot of fun!) Local vacations massively reduce travel costs and are easy to do in a weekend—so you can save time and money. Check out local blogs and travel sites to see if you can find some cool nearby spots you haven’t been to. You might be surprised at what you may have been overlooking in your own backyard!

Another good strategy is to imagine you have friends visiting your area from out of town—where would you take them? Sometimes thinking that way helps us realize there are cool things nearby that we’ve never actually done!

 3. Check out vacation rentals

Skip the pricey hotels and see if you can find a great vacation rental on a site like Airbnb or Vrbo. Renting a home or apartment is often more affordable, especially if you’re traveling with family.  Having a kitchen can be a big advantage because you can save money by cooking some of your meals. And having more space can be nice for everyone, instead of all trying to fit in one hotel room. Just be careful to check for cleaning fees and other add-ons—sometimes the nightly rate looks like a great deal, but the fees can tell a different story when you get ready to book it and see the total costs.

 4. Plan your meals carefully

Eating out can be one the most expensive parts of a vacation. To keep those costs down, plan your meals ahead of time. Preparing some meals at your rental, as we’ve already covered, can help a lot. And when you do want to eat out, try to keep it to just one meal a day, and scout out local eateries that don’t have the high prices of the restaurants in the tourist-heavy areas. (They almost always have better food, too!). And packing snacks and water for day trips can be a lot more cost-effective than buying them when you’re out and about.

 5. Look for free and cheap activities

Every destination has free or inexpensive activities, if you know where to look. Public beaches, museums with free admission days, historical sites, hiking trails, and city-sponsored events like concerts or festivals can be great fun without a big price tag. When you’re planning your trip, check out the area’s tourism website and plan your itinerary around lower-cost activities. It’s also a good idea to search sites like Groupon for deals on activities and tours in the area.

Bonus tip: book early

While last-minute deals can sometimes save you a little, booking your travel and lodging way in advance is generally the way to get the best discounts. Airlines, train lines, and hotels often give their best rates to early birds. Plus, you’ll have more options to choose from, so it’s more likely you can book exactly what you want, at the best possible price.