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Saving A Buck: Last-minute summer vacations

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OKLAHOMA CITY- Summer break is almost over for most students in Oklahoma but many families are trying to figure out how to squeeze in a last-minute vacation.

Lynn Manning and Tim Herbel are planning to take their kids on a Disney vacation in a matter of days.

Manning said, "I know it's peak time and it's hectic and crazy."

Manning is a teacher, which means she has a stricter deadline than many families across the state.

She said, "I have to report on August 12 and we get back into town on August 11."

While it is crunch time, they are doing a lot to save money on this trip.

Manning said, "We're making a plan. We're doing lots of research now so that when we get there it's not a scramble."

Herbel said, "By staying with friends and family we're saving some costs, as well."

Financial experts say planning ahead is the key to saving on vacations.

Tracy Ann Miller, with Red River Advisors, said, "If you are going to have money later you need to learn how to spend wisely now."

Miller has a few tips to help your family save.

First, don't travel hungry.

Miller said, "If you go to the grocery store and you're hungry, you're going to buy things you don't need. So, if you travel with hungry kids and stop they're going to want food because they see it."

Instead, she says families should always pack snacks.

Rather than buying bottled water, take an empty bottle with you and fill it up as you go.

Even airport officials will generally let an empty bottle through security, saving you a little cash.

She said, "It's the little things that might make a difference."

Next, pack meals or plan when you eat out.

Miller said, "There's a great way to get a nice big meal if you just buy it at lunch instead of dinner. They serve the same thing typically, they just don't charge as much."

Also, use the Internet to find out what you can do for free wherever it is you're going.

State and national parks are free or really affordable and relaxing for the whole family.

Miller said, "The state parks here in Oklahoma are great. It's back to nature. You get outside and can spend time with your kids, that doesn't cost you anything."

Lastly, only buy souvenirs that have value or can be used again.

Experts say a t-shirt isn't a bad investment since you or your child can wear it several times after the trip.

Lynn and Tim are doing what they can to plan ahead.

It's a move that will help them save while enjoying time with their children.

Also, check with your hotel to see if they offer free shuttle service to places you want to visit.

It could save you money on renting a vehicle.