12/06/2010

11 Tips for Saving on Travel

It is important to visit friends and family during the winter season. However traveling can get very expensive, especially around the peak time of the holidays. Add the expense of getting there with the temptation of visiting all of the attractions with your family and friends and suddenly the cost doesn't make traveling so appealing. Even so, traveling can be done on a budget if you know where to go, and how to save. Here are eleven tips to help you save a little cash as you travel.

1. Manage your money and understand how your debit and credit cards work from area to area ahead of time. Some ATMs charge a fee in order for you to withdraw your money. Other places may charge you a fee for using your card inside of their store rather than paying with cash. Review your account policies before making the trip.

2. Driving isn't bad. You might have to do some calculations but weigh out the pros and cons when it comes t how you travel. A bus trip to the NY round trip may cost $60 instead of a plane ticket for $250. Plan in advance when purchasing airline tickets. You might find that it is a pain to book a connecting flight, but connecting flights are often cheaper.

3. Travel light. Most airlines charge for those extra bags. That doesn't mean to be using an oversized one. Remember, you will have to haul it around once you get to where you are going. Try to keep most of your items in one or two. Save money by pre-paying your baggage costs online.  According to AOL Travel, checking your bags in advance online can save between $3.00 - $5.00 per bag.  Check to see if your airline offers this service.

4. Try cooking for yourself. Not many people do this, but it's very cost effective to think about cooking some of your own meals. Most rooms come with a microwave and a small refrigerator. Even if it is just making a few sandwiches for lunch, you're making those lunches for about $3 a person instead of $10. Lunches often cost less than dinners do.

5. Plan your meals when going out. Figure out where you are going to go and eat before you and your family feel like you are starving. Most restaurants offer their menus and pricing online. When your not starving, you can make better choices about the prices, find local favorites, and also not have to deal with the pressure of the bill.

6. When renting a car think about what size, model, and where you are going to be located. It pays to be specific. One way car rentals (when the pickup and drop off locations are different) are sometimes more than twice the price of standard rentals, especially if the two locations are in different states (or country). Also look for coupon codes, many which can be found online.

7. Ask questions. Sometimes smaller hotel chains are willing to give you free upgrades if you switch to them. Hotels compete with each other, but you have to ask for what deals they are willing to provide. If you already have a reservation booked elsewhere, see if they will be willing to give you a free night for switching.

8. Carry a guidebook. These are worth their weight in gold. Travel guides can cost about $20-$30 dollars, however, they will end up saving you cash by offering tips on places to eat, attractions, local customs, and cheap places to eat and sleep. They often have metro routes, bus routes, and detailed maps located inside of them as well.

9. Tourist spots might not be that hot. Sometimes visiting the local areas may bring more spice to the trip than visiting the tourist traps. Sampling small local restaurants, walking or using public transport (like the metro), and traveling around home can save you a ton of money.

10. Be flexible with travel days. Many prices are based on supply and demand. Look around the dates of your travel plans and see if spending an extra day is worth it. This makes a difference especially around major holidays.

11. Don't give up looking for deals. Reservations can often be canceled with a full refund. If you find a last minute deal that fits into your plans, take advantage of it. Also, age, membership, and student discounts are offered nearly everywhere. If you're traveling remember totake your ID cards along. Also team up with a few friends to get group discounts

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