Got any big summer plans? Summer is a great time to take that vacation you've really been wanting to go on. Here are some of the world's best summer vacation destinations.

Growing up, my parents did their best to take us on educational, eye-opening vacations to see and explore different cultures. I am so fortunate that they did because I learned so much about other people and lands. It's refreshing to get out of your comfort zone and adventure a new territory.

Naturally, finances and taking time off of work can always be an issue when taking a vacation, but with the proper planning it is possible. According to U.S. News, these summer vacation destinations are some of the world's best, but I've also compiled a more "realistic" list of vacation destinations for us hardworking Americans.

  1. Maui, Hawaii - beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery. So much to do and see in the Aloha State; however it is quite a trip to get over there and isn't too cheap. If you are looking for something more practical but don't want to go to Florida again, try the Pacific beaches of California. Huntington Beach is a great place with lots to do for the entire family.
  2. Paris, France - no other place like the "City of Love."  When in Paris, you must visit the lovely boulangeries, bistros, and cafés. Paris is somewhere I have been dying to go for a long time, but that isn't possible right now. So, New Orleans is my next bet because the city has a French feel with delicious cuisine and historic architecture.
  3. Mykonos, Greece - the white, silky beaches and beautiful architecture scream the Mediterranean. Vacationers travel there to see the turquoise water and experience ultimate relaxation. Can't go? Try Nashville, TN - they have a Parthenon which is a replica of the real Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
  4. San Francisco, CA - beautiful weather during the summer. Can't forget about the Golden Gate Bridge, world-class cuisine, booming nightlife. San Fran is a great place for exploring and adventure. To save money in San Francisco, some tips include:  stay at quaint bed and breakfasts over big-name hotels, buy a CityPass for unlimited rides all over town, book your trip sooner rather than later.
  5. Barcelona, Spain - an eccentric place for every kind of person. Barcelona is non-stop with its wild nightlife, sacred churches and cathedrals, and insane architecture. If you travel to Barcelona, you must see the historic La Sagrada Familia. I cannot compare Barcelona to any other place in the world. Ways to save money while you are there include:  buy the transport card, rent an apartment rather than staying in a hotel, and make lunch the main meal of your day (tapas for dinner.)
  6. Munich, Germany - one of my favorite places because it is my mother's hometown. From the beer gardens to the unique cuisine, Munich has lots to offer. If you are there in the summertime, the Bavarian Alps are a must-see. If you can't make it to Germany, next best thing is Fredericksburg, Texas. Located in between Austin and San Antonio, it's been settled since 1870 with a German heritage.
  7. Yellowstone National Park - there is no other place like it. Yellowstone is an outdoor paradise filled with endless land, pristine lakes, geysers, and roaming animals. I'm not quite sure if anything else comes close. Ways to save money while visiting Yellowstone include:  BYOB (bring your own bed) to stay on a campground rather than one of the park's lodges, off-season is the cheapest to visit, and do your own cooking at the campsites.

So, there you have it folks! The beautiful Earth we live on has so many wonderful places to vacation; however, we can always find something similar and less expensive if our first choice doesn't work out. No matter where you travel to this summer, be safe and have fun!