You're determined to get away this summer. If you want to do so and not be paying credit card bills for that privilege come Christmas, a smart strategy is a must.

Timing is everything: Travel at the start or end of summer. "The cheapest times to fly to Europe this year are the beginning of May and the end of August. You can save as much as $250 per round-trip ticket over peak dates from mid-June through July," says Patrick Surry, chief data scientist with Hopper, a provider of travel information in Boston.

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The Hopper app gives advice on when to fly and buy to save you up to 40 percent on domestic and foreign flights. Generally, Tuesdays are the best days to buy your ticket and depart. Mondays are the best to return. Weekends are the priciest.

Cash in on rewards: Use credit card points. "If you can pay off your debt each month, put as many expenses as you can on your credit card to build points for vacation, such as airfare and hotels," says Maggie Shard, president of Shard Financial Services in Fenton, Michigan.

Get online: Your computer is your new bff. Check out priceline.com, hotels.com, kayak.com, stayful.com, airb nb.com, homeway.com, yapta .com and others to find the best deals on airfare and accommodations.

Ask and you might receive: There may be discounts you might not get if you don't ask, such as student rates. Ask.

Keep it simple: With cheap gas prices, think road trip. Says Craig Siena, senior vice president at Sterne, Agee & Leach in Manhattan, "Driving to the Hamptons or the Cape instead of flying makes a lot of sense."