Work hard, play hard, right? The problem is that playing hard comes at a cost. There’s no such thing as a cheap trip to the beach. Flying to see family is just as expensive as a week-long trip to the big city. Nobody wants to spend the whole year at the office just to stay home during the summer months. Every spring families look forward to relaxation. But, while half of the country will leave home to swim in an ocean of leisure, most of them aren’t swimming in a pool of money.

beach - 5 Ways to Afford a Great Vacation

Luckily for everyone, there are ways to save on your getaway. Whether you’re driving down the coast or across the country, follow a few simple tips to save some cash. Instead of spending big on airline tickets, expensive meals, or pricy activities, plan ahead. Cutting travel costs may seem like a big hassle, but plenty of resources exist to ensure that you end up with a memorable adventure. All it takes is a little foresight and innovation to ensure your wallet — and schedule — earn some much needed rest. Check out a few of these ideas to get started:

1. Make Your Own Food

Once you pick a destination, you can research the surrounding area. Find a grocery store nearby or some fast food restaurants. Not every meal has to be at a five-star eatery. In fact, cutting out the fine dining is a great way to save a little dough. Become a member at the nearest supermarket and save instantly on your food bill. Pack lunches when you head down to the beach and arrange for family style dinners at your condo.

You won’t even miss the hassle of picking a restaurant and being disappointed with your order. Storing snacks and non-refrigerated items will keep you away from the hotel bar and the big spending that comes with it. Most people associate big bills with summer adventures, but this is an easy tip to help you take a trip without devastating your wallet. So don’t sacrifice the rest and energy that you can gain by going away because you don’t think you can afford the chow.

2. Rack up Travel Rewards on Credit Cards

Whether you’re using your rewards credit card to earn points towards a trip, or using it on your vacation to build up bonuses, this is a sure way to gain a little financial relief. It’s easy enough to find great deals that offer points, cash, and gift cards, so go out and snag one that enables you to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

By taking advantage of this simple trick, you can lead your loved ones to a memorable destination that will live in family lore. Every family deserves a getaway, and it shouldn’t mean you have to break the bank just to enjoy a week at the shore. Airline tickets and hotel stays can easily be taken care of with a few transactions on a new rewards credit card. A dream trip is more feasible than you probably think.

3. Sign Up for Notifications on Travel Deals

You’re already an expert at surfing the Web, now you can use that skill to your advantage. Get on an email list or a newsletter that notifies you of the best vacation deals for the week. You’ll never miss a great opportunity when you’re looking daily at the rates for your travel week of preference.

You’re in-the-know every time a hotel drops its price or a transportation company offers a deal. This is the first step to enjoying a vacation without blowing your savings. Behind white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and pool side lounging are thoughts of expensive airline tickets and pricey condo stays, but this hack can keep you calm and focused at the fun in front of you.

4. Travel With a Large Group

What’s better than spending time with your friends and family? Spending time with your friends and family on vacation! Make memories with the ones you love the most while splitting the cost of something that may be a bit out of your price range. It’s the best of both worlds.

5. Bring Entertainment from Home

Finally, you’ll need some entertainment for those down times. Simply pack some of your favorite movies, books, or board games before you take off. They keep everyone occupied without costing a cent. So if you’re looking to save, follow these guidelines to get started on your next big adventure.