WASHINGTON - Soaring gasoline prices and a sagging economy may force many Americans to spend less on their summer vacation this year. But budget-wary travelers can still have fun in the sun if they follow these money-saving tips:
Maintain your car. Be sure to have your vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic before taking a long road trip.
Stay outside a central city. Vacationers traveling to major cities should check surrounding suburbs for cheaper hotels.
Use the Internet. The Internet offers a variety of Web sites that search for travel deals on airline tickets, hotel rooms, tour packages and rental cars. Some Web sites to check out are: priceline.com, expedia.com, travelocity.com, bestfares.com and frommers.com.
Two popular airline discounters available over the phone are 1-800- FLY-CHEAP and 1-800-CHEAP- AIR.
Wait until midnight. It's the best time to search the Internet or to call for cheaper airline tickets.
Plan your meals. If you want to eat at an expensive restaurant, consider going for lunch instead of dinner. Families also can save money by packing a picnic.
Play your discount cards. Remember to use membership cards, such as AARP, to receive discounts available at many hotels, car-rental agencies, restaurants, bus charters and museums.