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Cut your Memorial Day travel costs

By Paula Pant ·
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET
© Monkey Business /

Driving to your destination is often far more cost effective than flying. Sure, you might lose time in transit, but you can create some warm-and-fuzzy memories on the road.

Memorial Day weekend is around the corner. Many families take advantage of the holiday to spend time with loved ones.

In fact, 35.1 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles from their home on Memorial Day weekend in 2012, according to AAA.

If you're among those getting out of town during the coming three-day weekend -- whether to a forest, beach, mountain or somewhere else -- try these cost-cutting measures.

1. Drive instead of flying

Unless you're traveling solo, it's usually more cost-efficient to drive instead of fly. Even if you're traveling alone, driving is sometimes cheaper, especially in a fuel-efficient car.

For example, driving from Raleigh, North Carolina, to New York City covers a distance of 491 miles each way. If your car gets a combined city/highway average of 30 miles per gallon, and fuel prices are $3.70 per gallon, the round trip will cost about $121 in fuel.

You'd be lucky to score an airline ticket for one person at such a low price, and the moment you're traveling with multiple people, the choice becomes clear.

Of course, there are cons to driving. For starters, you lose two days in transit. But there are generally always tradeoffs between time and money when you're trying to be more frugal.

2. Book motels or vacation rentals

Do you view your hotel as simply a place to sleep? If you don't plan on spending much time in your hotel, try booking a low-cost motel such as a Super 8, Motel 6 or Howard Johnson.

On the other hand, if your accommodation is a critical part of the vacation experience, look for vacation rentals on websites like or These are often cheaper than hotels because they're offered directly by the owners, who don't have as much overhead.

Furthermore, vacation rentals typically feature full kitchens, which allow you to prepare meals that are cheaper than what you would find at a restaurant.

3. Eat foods that need no preparation

If you want to create your own meals but do not have a kitchen, choose foods that require no preparation, like fresh fruit, nuts, and deli sandwiches and salads.

It is fine to dine out occasionally during your vacation. But save restaurant meals for times when you are looking for an "experience" that will create memories you will cherish for years to come.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

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