28 ways to save on vacations

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28 ways to save on vacation


Comparison shop on the Web for your airline tickets, car rentals, hotel rooms, cruises and resort packages. Be sure to visit multiple sites for price quotes and information.

Book your own travel arrangements for the quick familiar trips. Use a travel agent for complicated travel arrangements, such as honeymoon, package tour or cruise.

Agents typically charge a per-ticket booking fee. If you can bundle up services and buy more than one ticket, ask to have the booking fee waived.

Travel to destinations during their off-season: Europe in the winter; the Caribbean in September and October; Hawaii in May or September. Do your research.

Be flexible with travel dates and times. By changing your travel dates even a day or two, you can save hundreds of dollars.

Work with a travel agent who is a cruise expert. The agent can save you money, plus get more free perks, such as upgraded cabins, shore excursions and even cruise insurance.

Cruise lines offer many early-booking specials, plus you’ll save on air fare if you book early to get to the port city.

You can book a rental car in the low season for less, even if you’ll be using it in the peak season.

Rent the smallest car practical for your use. Not only will you save on the rental, but on gas, too.

When you’re at the rental counter, ask for a free upgrade.

If you are visiting a large city, use public transportation instead of renting a car.

Avoid renting a car at the airport. You’ll find more competitive rates, plus avoid extra surcharges at car rental agencies away from the convenience of the airport.

Fill the rental car up yourself before returning it. But don’t fill up at the gas station nearest the car rental return lot — you’ll pay more than at a station a couple of miles away.

For special equipment such as a car seat or a bike or ski rack, deal with the individual rental company’s Web site or phone reservations line. Prices vary greatly among rental companies.

If you’re a member of any organization, such as AAA or AARP, ask about travel discounts.

Always explore the possibility of lower hotel rates. Once you arrive at your hotel, inquire about upgrades or special offers.

Some hotel chains offer perks to repeat customers. Inquire about upgrades, free night’s stay, free continental breakfast or access to the concierge lounge.

Hotels in cities are usually cheaper on the weekends when business travelers aren’t staying there, but hotels in resort areas or other places that are popular with leisure travelers are often cheaper during the week.

Travel with the principle that it never hurts to ask for a little more. You can always ask for upgrades, whether it’s a hotel or transportation. Save your negotiating for those in management.

Rent a house, condo or efficiency, so you can cook or barbecue. Your meals won’t eat away at your budget.

Check out an all-inclusive resort for savings. One price includes your accommodations, meals, snacks and entertainment.

Avoid using your hotel long-distance service, as up to $3 to $4 can be tacked on to each call.

Research places of interest to visit before your trip or visit the local visitors’ center. By traveling off the beaten track, you’ll avoid the expensive tourist traps.

Budget for the day’s adventure. It cuts down on spontaneous purchases and guards against putting too much on your credit card.

Travel with a cooler so you’re not purchasing drinks and snacks at every rest stop.

Sample local fare from a farmer’s market and enjoy a picnic dinner at a peaceful stop along the way.

Tourist spots sell everything from film to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun — at a higher cost. Purchase these items before and save.

Make lunch your big meal of the day with the prix-fixe — a fixed-price menu. This meal includes up to four courses for one price, lower than meals on the regular menu.
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