REUTERS/Amir

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

You can feel it in the air.  The summer vacation season is officially upon us and everyone's jumping around with ants in their pants, just itching to get out of town.

Let me say it again - IT'S SUMMER!

Summer means fun time, free time, family time, and friend time.  It's the time of year we dream about in January, prepare for in May, and embrace, well, right about now!

It's also a time where we get a bit stressed about our budget, about spending too much, or splurging on a dream vacation.  But, no need to worry!  We're here with 8 tips to make your summer vacation much more efficient and affordable.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because here's IBTraveler's money saving travel tips for your summer vacation:

Know the Ways to save on Car Rentals:

Look for deals online at coupon-offering websites or check directly with your preferred rental company's Twitter or Facebook pages for surprising deals.  Also, signing up for loyalty programs, booking early, or booking for cars away from the airport can save you big bucks.  And, don't forget to buy your own gas and avoid unnecessary add-ons like insurance (which is probably already covered by your Credit Card or personal insurance policy).

For more tips, CLICK HERE for the top ten ways to save on car rentals.

Save Money By Packing Food:

Take an ice chest.  Shop at local grocery stores for carrots, fresh fruit, bottled water and soda.  It's a lot less expensive and also healthier than eating out every day.  Also, carry along some empty water bottles and fill them at drinking fountains to stay hydrated.  This will save you money, and it's better for the environment.

Get Some Apps:

Some of these are just for fun, but others will actually help you save money from finding cheap gas or food to converting currencies.  There are also some great apps for organizing your trip, researching ahead of time, and sharing your travels with your friends while you're gone.

CLICK HERE for some of the best apps for a smoother ride.

Read TSA's Travel Tips and Pack Lightly:

These might not save you any money, but they sure will save you a lot of time. You know what they say, 'time is money!'

http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/06/tsa-2011-summer-travel-tips.html

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/summer_travel.shtm

Also, be sure to pack lightly and weigh your check-in bags at home to make sure they fit within the weight restrictions.  Otherwise, you may be surprised with a hefty fee.  Additionally, don't forget to leave room in your bags for souvenirs and shopping.

Take Your Laptop:

If you're a Netflix costumer, or just have a lot of DVDs at home, take your laptop and television cables.  Rooms at several major hotel chains are equipped with hook-ups so you can watch your movies and shows off your laptop and save on entertainment fees.

Try Some Hotel Alternatives:

The past decade has seen a rise in alternatives to the hotel, and I'm not talking about the tried and true campervan.  There are so many new opportunities for staying with locals and getting a more cultural experience.

CLICK HERE to check out the new trend - that Ashton Kutcher supports - of hospitality exchanges and alternatives to the hotel.

Get an International Credit Card:

When traveling abroad, it's important that you have an international credit card without foreign transaction fees.  According to Card Hub, 90.2% of credit cards charge 3% fees for transactions processed overseas.  So, check whether your card has these fees and open a new one if necessary.  Be sure to do so before booking airfare, lodging or daytrips, because if the companies you book through are based outside the country, foreign fees might be in effect.

Know how to Save on National Parks:

If you're 62 or older, the U.S. National Parks offers a lifetime Senior Pass for $10.00. If you're not a senior, but are planning to visit several national parks, check out the annual pass for $80.00.  Also, there are several days of the year where entrance to national parks is actually free.