Get Away Without Getting Carried Away
Final article in the series "Budget".
Ready for a break from your regular routine? Whether you're planning a major multi-week vacation or just a quick weekend jaunt, we have some ideas for stretching your travel budget further.
Book early. Or book late. Visit discount websites to search the best available fares for your destination. Spend some time playing with dates, connections and carriers, if you can, to maximize your savings. For domestic flights, the Bing site will analyze past pricing data to tell you if rates might be dropping or on the rise. Or kayak.com will search more than 140 sources. If you're feeling adventurous (or at least flexible), you can also search individual airlines, cruises and vacation package providers for last-minute deals.
Save on luggage fees. With many airlines charging for checked bags, you'll want to avoid overpacking. And you'll want to factor the cost of luggage into your fare comparison. The Ultimate Guide to Travel Fees tracks the major domestic carriers.
Reserve a kitchen. Staying in a suite, condo or house may cost the same as a hotel room, and you might save even more in the long run by cooking some meals yourself. It can be fun to shop for groceries in a new area, and you may prefer simpler breakfasts and lunches over the course of your stay. It's also likely to be easier on your meal plan than eating in restaurants meal after meal.
Skip the rental car. If you're going somewhere with good public transportation, use it. Many bus and rail lines' websites will tell you exactly how to use their services—from buying a ticket to getting where you want to go. You can also ask for assistance at the ticket booth. Be sure to walk wherever you can. You'll see more of your destination and get some great blood glucose-burning exercise to boot.
Ask hotels for their best rates. Be bold. Call to make your reservation and ask for a discounted rate, free night or free upgrade. Tell them you're willing to book your stay at another hotel if you can find a better deal. Then ask for an upgrade again when you check in. It can't hurt, and you may find yourself living the suite life.