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Spending Less on Vacation Travel

February 15, 2012

Flexibility helps but isn’t always possible when you’re planning your vacation. The best way to spend less on vacation travel is to compare all ways to travel to your destination. If there are limitations (cross country, time, cost), be sure to look for deals to help ease your wallet!

If you are driving:

– Use a gas calculator at AAA to compare driving to your destination. Remember that this does not calculate wear and tear on your vehicle, but it’s based on the current prices for your area, and provides one way and round trip costs.

– Search for the lowest rate for car rentals. Some sites offer discounts, like Greenopolis, Military Discounts, the Entertainment Book, or AAA for renting vehicles.

– Grab gas gift cards through cashing in at member sites that reward actions with gift cards, like Mypoints.

If you are flying:

Kayak can give a breakdown of how much a certain destination will cost from your current city. I was surprised to see that foreign countries are actually cheaper for me right now than US destinations!

– Sign up for low fare alerts at a site like Airfare Watchdog or FareCompare.

– Watch for special sales like Jet Blue’s @jetbluecheeps Twitter specials on Tuesdays or in USAir’s newsletters. Sherman’s Travel and Travelzoo also offer their top 20 deals of the week on Tuesdays.

– Use a fare calendar like Bing Travel to compare dates if your travel is flexible.

– Sign up for Yapta to keep track for a refund if your flight dips below what you paid for it.

– Pack accordingly. Take what you need and nothing more – and know that you can always shop when you’re at your destination. Sometimes it’s cheaper to ship items home from the gift shop or your suitcase than to pay for yet another baggage fee.

If you are taking the bus or train

– While the ticket prices is usually set for Amtrak for a certain route, NARP members, AAA members, and active military members and families receive 10% off.

– Like flying, roundtrip tickets are usually cheaper than 2 one-way tickets. Unlike flying, baggage is usually included with your ticket, so what you pay for your ticket is the only cost, with nothing hidden.

– Compare bus companies like you would airlines. Greyhound and Megabus often run the same routes, yet Megabus may only charge $5 or $10 instead of $40 or $80. Find out what bus lines run in your area or that you can connect to.

If you are using multiple means of travel:

– Renting a car at the airport is the more expensive than any other car rental place, even at the same agency for the same car. The airport tax is unavoidable, but you may not be stuck. See if there is any free transportation from the airport to another agency, such as a bus line or a hotel shuttle.

– Taking a taxi may actually be cheaper than renting a car if public transportation isn’t available. Check taxi rates at your destination. And remember, if you share a taxi it will be even cheaper!

– Check if your destination city as an all-day bus pass, like Charleston’s CARTA or Atlanta’s MARTA. For $6/day and $7/day respectively, the fare may be cheaper than other means of transportation, especially if you are at a hotel that will drop you off in the tourist district for free.

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