Traveling on a Budget by Mark Kelly

So, have you planned your summer vacation just yet? I did, just this past weekend! But, I've got to do it all on a pretty tight budget. Honestly though, who isn't watching every penny these days?

But where to go?

To stick to the budget, the first decision my girlfriend and I made was not to pay for a flight. I priced out some regional airports and compared that to the every-climbing gas prices and found that even if gas tops $4 in the coming weeks, driving would still be less expensive than flying - hands down.

But what area is drivable, but far enough away that it feels like a true escape?{}

Charlotte feels too close; we weren't looking for a beach vacation, so we ruled Myrtle and Virginia Beach. We recently went to NYC and D.C., so it came down to Nashville and Atlanta - two cities I've heard pretty good things about.

In the end, we settled on Atlanta. It's drivable (about 8 hours), it's hot ("Hotlanta"), it's a big city with a lot of activity, we can catch a professional sports game, tour CNN (we're both news dorks), go dancing, and most important of all, it's a city neither of us have ever visited before.

Alright, so we settled on the location. But the hotel price tag was still on my mind.{}

I heard discount hotel-booking websites like Hotwire offer some pretty good deals, but having never booked through them before, I was reluctant. Hotwire's website says it can offer quality hotels at discounted rates because the website doesn't tell you what hotel you'll be staying at until after you swipe your credit card and pay for the room. Sounds risky, but to save some dough, it was a risk we were both willing to take. And man did it work out in our favor: we snagged a brand new, beautiful Westin hotel for $53 a night!

I'd love a few more money saving tips for travel. If you would, post below how you saved money, but still had a memorable vacation!