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Tips to save money on summer travel and activities

Ways to save while traveling this summer
Ways to save while traveling this summer 02:12

MINNEAPOLIS -- Come Memorial Day weekend, millions of Americans will head out on vacation to kick off the "unofficial' start to summer - and the travel that comes with it.

It's sure to be a busy travel season. National data shows that 85 percent of Americans plan to travel at least once this summer. And according to a survey conducted by Explore Minnesota, travelers are excited to spend time in Minnesota. Many are planning to take multiple day only and overnight trips across the state.

"There's a really strong appetite for leisure travel this summer," Explore Minnesota Tourism executive director Lauren Bennett McGinty said. "You're going to see a lot more drive traffic from the region and people wanting to head up north and check out all of the hot spots."

All that travel comes with a price tag, but some of those hot spots are offering deals ahead of the busy season.

"Now through mid-May, we're seeing a lot of two nights get a third night free specials on the North Shore," she said. "It's a really great opportunity to do some hiking, check out those waterfalls and get up there before it gets really busy in the summer."

But if you're thinking beyond Memorial Day, staying regional and taking a road trip might be your best bet to save a buck.

Dennis Wilson, with Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, says making a call rather than online booking can help you find the perfect fit. Typically, he tells his guests to book a year in advance during the summer. But don't let that stop you from trying.

"We do have an amazing on-property reservations team. If you call them - it's basically about finding the perfect fit. So, we do have cabins that are open, hotel rooms that are open," Wilson said. "It's about finding that perfect fit for travel time. Whether it's Tuesday through Friday versus a Friday through Tuesday or something like that. Our reservation team can walk anyone through that. We always want to find the perfect fit for anyone's family."

Wilson says if you are watching your wallet, avoid holidays and be flexible with your travel timeline.

"A lot of the deals will come mid-week," Wilson said. "Finding those perfect fits that we have some open availability that isn't your typical vacation stay pattern."

Wilson says cooking at your cabin or rental can help save money during travel too.

"That's fun too, a beautiful cabin cookout on the lake," he said.

Finding a one-stop shop with activities and events all in one place can also help cut out extra costs. Like Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais.

"You can come up here and we've got enough activities for people, they can stay for the week without having to get back in the car and do any driving," co-owner of Gunflint Lodge John Fredikson said. "That, too, can consolidate things and make it a little bit easier on the pocketbook."

Fredikson says Gunflint also offers lower priced cabins - for the more adventurous type.

"We have our Voyager Cabins," he said. "Similar to State Park Camper Cabin. No institute bathroom but those are very reasonable."

Wherever it may be there's a lot to see and save.

"Bring a sense of adventure and a sense of exploration," he said. "It's great to come up here and build memories. That's what traveling is all about."

Explore Minnesota suggests booking two to three months in advance, but don't let a timeline stop you from trying.

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