How to Save on Summer Vacation Planning

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Colorado Firm Offers 7 Tips to Keep Food, Gas Costs in Check

With schools starting to let out, temperatures climbing, and flowers blooming, summer vacation season is around the corner. But with rising food and gas prices, making those vacation plans is more challenging than ever.

Summer vacation should produce lasting memories, not lasting debt, according to Colorado-based Ore Communications. To help insure vacations that don't break the bank, the firm offers these tips with an eye on keeping gas and food costs in check.

1.    Stay put. Instead of a driving trip incorporating several stops, head for one destination. Cities where attractions are accessible by foot or public transportation can help cut costs. In Grand Junction, Colorado's major western slope vacation destination (http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/), for instance, a $1 shuttle runs from major hotel areas to downtown attractions. In Telluride, Colo. (http://www.visittelluride.com/), visitors have no need for a car at all once they arrive, thanks to the town's free shuttle bus system and the world's only energy efficient free gondola.

2.    Consider going all-inclusive. Staying at one resort that offers a multitude of services, amenities, and activities can mean significant savings. For families with children who like to try their hand at many activities - and then get tired or bored - it can be especially helpful. Dude ranches are increasingly popular all-inclusive options for singles, couples, and families, and can range from rustic adventures on working ranches to world-class resorts. For a few options, check out the Dude & Guest Ranches of Grand County, Colo., at http://www.dude-ranch.com/.

3.    Bypass the rental car. If you won't absolutely need a car when you arrive at your destination, use public transportation to get there when possible. Airport shuttles, buses, and trains offer good alternatives. If you're in an area where you'd be using taxis frequently, however, compare costs to determine if a rental car would be more economical. Better yet? Try vacationing in places where you can walk to everything. Even in the wide reaches of the American West, walkable towns abound. Try scenic Ouray (http://www.ouraycolorado.com/), picturesque Grand Lake http://www.grand-county.com/, or world-famous Telluride (http://www.visittelluride.com/).

4.    Get out of your car. Even if you are taking a vacation by car, think about constructing a trip that isn't all driving. Go hiking, bicycling, or horseback riding. Not only will it be less expensive - you'll likely lose a few inches, too. For outdoor Colorado vacations in fascinating, historic, lesser-known locales, check out Mesa Verde Country (http://www.mesaverdecountry.com/) or Southwest Colorado Travel Region (http://www.swcolotravel.org/).

5.    (Don't) follow the crowd. Off-season doesn't have to mean winter in New England. Many U.S. destinations offer plenty of off-peak and shoulder-season rates in late spring, early summer, and late summer. And no matter where or when you travel, be sure to ask about any discounts. More lodging properties, restaurants, and attractions than ever are offering discounts this year thanks to a sluggish economy.

6.    Create your own meal plan. Bed and breakfast inns and many hotels include breakfast. Spend a few minutes in the morning making sandwiches, or pay a visit to the local market, deli, and/or produce stand to make a fun, inexpensive lunch. Agritourism, one of the tourism industry's fastest-growing sectors, allows adults and kids alike to learn first-hand how and where food is produced. Buying straight from the source saves in the big picture, too: You eliminate food's travel and transport, and lessen your carbon footprint. Heading west? Check out Delta County, Colo. (http://www.westerncolorado.org/), for a wide variety of local produce.

7.    Think outside the (lodging) box. Bed and breakfast inns, historic inns, and rentals of condos, townhomes and houses all can offer interesting, value-priced accommodations. In many areas, hostels are no longer just for the college crowd. Home exchanges are becoming popular vacation options, and some Web sites listing exchanges also list homes in which the owners are open to renting part of their homes without an exchange.

Ore Communications, based in Granby, Colo., specializes in public relations, branding, and strategic marketing in the lifestyle, leisure, and travel industry. Current clients cover an area that represents more than a third of Colorado's 104,100 square miles, and include: Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau; Delta County Tourism Board; Mesa Verde Country; Southwest Colorado Travel Region; Dude & Guest Ranches of Grand County; Grand County Colorado Tourism Board; Telluride Tourism Board; and Mountain Lodge at Telluride. For more information call 970-887-2536 or visit http://www.orecommunications.com.

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Gaylene Ore

Aimee Bennett

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