Whether you’re taking a plane, train or automobile to your destination, there are some tips that can go a long way to save some dough. At the same time, don’t let travel tips leave you feeling like you’ve deprived yourself of a joyous and relaxing vacation. Instead feel proud that you were able to apply your valued research skills to find the best deals, while still experiencing all that your destination has to offer.
A vacation should be guilt free and stress-free. When you do your homework beforehand, those feelings of guilt and stress are minimized if not totally eliminated.
Flight and Car Tips
Book early: you can find early bird deals on flights, hotels, food, etc. I booked an overseas flight to Turkey a few years ago months in advance. And as a result, I saved over $700! Usually, for big trips, you generally have an idea when you are going to go and so can start researching and booking early. Plus it propels you to start looking for deals on local attractions and restaurants.
Using neutral websites like TripAdvisor will provide reviews from actual guests in past hotels. Also, you can find coupons in the actual hotels you are staying at plus brochures the have local attractions. And don’t be afraid to call and ask the front desk staff about things to do in the area. Trust me they have the inside scoop.
Finally, consider traveling on weekdays: flights are cheaper, train tickets may be cheaper, and traffic on the main highways is generally lighter as long as you don’t travel during the work commuting hours.
Try to book a hotel that has free offerings. These may include free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and free parking. Sometimes these hotels are in the suburbs of the main city you are visiting. But if you are traveling by car, it may be worth it to drive a few miles and save. You can visit the city and attractions all day and will probably be at the hotel in the mornings and return late in the evenings anyway.
Some hotels I’ve personally stayed at which offered free breakfast included Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn under the Marriott brand. Other brands offer free benefits as well including and Hampton Inn under the Hilton Brand. For a more detailed list of hotels that offer free breakfast, check out Reader’s Digest.
How about a staycation – many people think that they actually have to go somewhere to make it feel like a vacation. But on the contrary, you can be a tourist in your own area or close by city. The advantage to this is you kind of have a learning curve anyway because you generally have an idea where the museums, state parks, landmarks and other attractions are located. Sometimes you may pass them and think one day I’m going to take off and go, but that day never comes… until NOW!
Of course, another advantage to a staycation is you don’t pay for accommodations, some meals you can eat at home but yes feel free to indulge at those restaurants that you’ve always wanted to try. It’s important to plan a staycation like a real vacation; that is having an agenda for each day. In the agenda, include some downtime to just tour the area(s) you are interested in general.
Food Expense Tips
Apart from transportation and lodging, the next biggest expense during travel is arguably food. But it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re visiting museums and other local attractions, going for a boat ride on a lakefront getaway, at the beach, pack your food. With this, try to pack filling items like big breakfast and granola bars, loaded sandwiches, potato salad, and mixed nuts.
Depending on where you are going, try to buy some groceries before you leave especially if it’s a road trip. Some experts say that groceries at tourist destinations are more expensive.
At the same time, you’ll want to take advantage of the local food available at your destination which is not available or usually a lot more expensive at home. For example, I went to Mexico several years ago and bought guavas for dirt cheap – basically pennies a pound from a wagon. They were soft and delicious.
Root of Good, a fellow writer also finds fruits and other local foods while vacationing that I often read about and salivate at the pictures 🙂
Since you’re on vacation, you’ll want to eat out too. But make sure to research and read reviews of restaurants in advance as well. Some restaurants offer great deals during the holiday season.
We recently went to Red Lobster and I got a 3-course meal for $12.99 including salad, TWO entrees, and dessert! Finally, don’t forget to check out sites like Living Social or Groupon to see if a restaurant you have already researched is listed here.
What are your travel plans for the holidays? How have you prepared in advance to save and get more bang for your travel bucks?
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