Saving Money

12 Money Saving Tips For A More Affordable Vacation: Part II of III on Vacation Budgeting

So you want to go on vacation, but this year in particular, you don’t want to blow your personal budget and return home to a pile of bills. Well, the good news is that we’ve got more than a few money saving tips to help you plan an affordable vacation!

Economy Class Tips: Basic Money Saving Tips For Travelers

1. Start planning early. You’ll have the time to scope out the best deals and research the best ways to save money for your chosen destination. For a basic guide to buying the cheapest airline tickets online, you can check out How To Find a Good Airfare on the Web at About.com. Try calling the hotel directly to get the lowest possible room rate and tap into any property-specific packages.

2. Try to be flexible about your travel dates. You might be able to score some last minute bargains if you’re flexible on your dates…traveling during shoulder vs. peak seasons, traveling mid-week to leisure destinations, for example. Check out LastMinuteTravel.com to search for deals. Flexibility can do wonders for keeping your personal budget under control.

3. Stay close to home. As a general rule, the closer you stay to your home base, the less expensive travel costs will be…no matter how high the price of a gallon of gas!

4. Plan your meals. Opt for a slightly more expensive hotel room with a kitchen or kitchenette if you’re willing to cook your own meals while on vacation. Otherwise, at least ask for a room with a refrigerator — one that allows you to keep some (non-mini-bar) drinks and snacks.

5. Take advantage of discounts. The local Entertainment Book can be a great source of coupons and bargains to stretch your vacation budget. If you have a membership at a museum or zoo, see if you can get free reciprocal admission at your destination. Also check with the local chamber of commerce or tourism board to see if they have any special offers.

Business Class Tips: Do Your Research and Be Prepared!

1. Check out your local travel center. If you’re a member of an organization that has a travel center, start by checking it out. You’ll find travel centers at AAA, Costco, Sam’s Club, and the AARP. These travel centers can quote you rates for airfare, hotels, cruises and travel packages; they can give you information about the destinations you’re interested in, and provide you with maps and local details.

2. Find out what travel perks your credit cards offer. For example, while most credit cards offer car-rental insurance, some credit cards also offer varying forms of travel insurance. You may also get discount or reward bonuses by making certain purchases with your credit card. Check with your individual card issuer for protections and deals specific to your card. You should also check the deals available to all American Express, Mastercard, and Visa cardholders. If you’re going abroad, Capital One and Discover are the only major issuers that don’t charge any foreign transaction fees (but note that your Discover card might not be accepted at many places abroad).

3. Leave some stuff at home. You don’t want to be stuck throwing out, or paying to mail home, stuff you can’t bring with you on the plane. Before you fly, check the TSA’s list of permitted and prohibited items.

4. Minimize your time at the airport. Find out about any airport delays at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center. This will prevent you from waiting (and paying dearly for) long hours at the airport…in the form of $4.00 coffees and $10.00 sandwiches.

First Class Tips: Get Creative to Get that last Dollar of Savings

1. Think outside the box! About.com’s Budget Travel section has some creative ideas on saving money, such as swapping or renting a home.

Mint Tip: BudgetTravel.com and Bankrate.com both have some good money saving tips for reducing expenses in all categories.

2. Pack lightly and carefully. Experts always advise packing lightly, for good reason. You’ll find that it does impact your vacation budget in more ways than one. The airlines have new lower baggage limits and have increased fees for extra bags. Pack according to the expected weather conditions at your destination so you’re not caught having to purchase raincoats or swimsuits during your trip. You can get a forecast at Weather.com. Here are more ideas for packing lightly.

3. Last tip: learn about tipping “rules”. If you’re headed for a foreign destination, keep in mind what the locals will be expecting! Travel & Leisure has a great guide to tipping in other countries.

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