Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Save Money on Holiday Travel

Are you ready for the busiest travel season of the year? Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time for driving, but we were surprised to learn that the fall and winter holidays are not the busiest airport travel days… mid-July carries the busiest days for flyers.  But travel around the November, December and January holidays sure do feel like the busiest all around. They absolutely are high in-demand airport travel times and carry big price tags in every travel category, from transportation to lodging; couple that with family expectations and specific time constraints with limited options, and it all translates to:  the pressure is on.

If you’re traveling for the holidays, you can save yourself some stress, time, and money by preparing early with the excellent tips in these videos… and then you can sit back and really enjoy the holidays!

Cheapest Days to Fly – Another clip from FareCompare.com, video gives best days to book for big savings – Nice to know for Holidays!

Holiday Air Travel Deals – A segment from  Travel and Leisure Magazine features director, Nilou Motamed, giving websites & pointers.

Holiday Air Travel Planning Tips – Clip gives simple tip could save you stress & money during the busy holiday season (wouldn’t that be nice?).

Hotel Booking Tips – Great pointers and tips from the LA Times Travel Editor.

Top Secret Hotel Booking Tip – This single tip could bring you big savings from MoneySavingExpert.com founder, Martin Lewis.

Cheap Car Rentals, 22 Money Saving How-To Tips – Rental cars can be a high priced drain. This SpendLessTV blog post gives all the best tips we’ve found, which could save you a bundle on your rental car!

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How To Avoid Costly Travel Hassles

No one wants travel hassle. No matter how far from or close to home you venture, travel is an exciting and enriching adventure. We spend days, sometimes months planning and making arrangements. We may spend several years saving up to make a vacation happen. We want everything go to as smoothly as possible. But… we’ve just got to face it, travel is the perfect opportunity for snags, and those glitches can be very expensive, draining you of your time and costing you in extra unplanned fees, change charges, impromptu overnights, and even fines. However with a little forethought and planning you may be able to save yourself some real travel trouble, time and money. The more you can prepare ahead, the less opportunity for snags. We’ve gathered these tips and videos from some of the best travel experts – handy ideas to help you avoid or quickly smooth over some of the potential pitfalls that come with the travel territory.

  • More people are handling their own travel personal and business arrangements these days. Sites like tripit.com allow you to have your whole itinerary easily accessible to yourself, and anyone you choose.
  • Write it all down and make copies. Even if you’ve created online records, there’s no replacement for paper.Be sure you have it all in one easily accessible place for quick reference.Even the simplest information is important.
    • A copy of the name of your airlines, flight numbers, ship, train line, hotels, length of stay and dates for each destination.
    • Emergency contact info: Write down who you would contact in case of an emergency ie: your embassy, bank, credit card company, etc.
    • Leave a copy with someone you can reach at home of all documents, itinerary and details.
  • Be sure you have all that is required for travel to the country you have selected to visit…the valid required health documents, visa’s, passports, money, taxes.. etc.
  • Find out ahead of time which countries will not accept your visit based on a prior visit to another country which they may have problematic relations with. If you know this ahead of time, you can ask to have a separate piece of paper stamped instead of a page in your passport.
  • Have all boarding passes, tickets, passports, identification, and other necessary papers altogether and ready to show. This is especially handy to have when dealing with customs both entering and exiting a country. Often it’s these simple details that can get forgotten when you are rushed and frazzled and can’t even remember what day of the week  it is after a long day  or night of travel or have awakened at 4 am and haven’t had a cup of coffee yet.
  • Prepare ahead for a last minute change:
    • Have a list of airport hotels direct numbers (not 800 numbers) If you need to stay overnight a direct call will go further than an online or central reservation.
    • If you have to rebook a flight, you may do it faster by calling rather than waiting in line to book the change. If you carry or have online access to a flight guide you’ll be several steps ahead.
    • Pack a change of clothes, medications, and mobile device re-chargers in your carry-on bag.
    • Bring a sweater, light jacket, shawl or lap blanket to have available on the flight, or to use if you need to sleep over at the airport. Catch this site for the ultimate in airport sleep-over pointers.
    • Have a money belt in your carry-on ready to use if you want to protect valuables should you need to sleep in the airport, also a good idea while sleeping on the plane.
    • When waiting for your flight, be sure to locate electrical outlets, in case you need to re-charge your mobile devices, very handy if you need to sleep over at the airport.
  • Get the most comfort possible for your money.Know before you book by checking sites like seatguru.com which show you exactly what is what, size of the seat, location, proximity to the restrooms, etc.
  • Get a boarding pass ahead of time if you can. You may be able to do this online.
  • Arrive at the airport early, early… and did we say, early?
  • Avoid checking luggage. Carry-on is the only way to be certain your bags won’t get lost. Make sure you have proper identification on the outside AND inside all your luggage.
  • Will your carry-on bag actually fit in the overhead or under the seat? Check ahead, many smaller planes will require gate-check-in, but you can avoid a surprise and the accompanying hassle if you know this ahead of time.
  • Check ahead for luggage weight limits, too. Find out the weight limits on luggage for your airline. Many smaller and foreign carriers have weight limits even for carry-on bags.
  • Separate your liquids.Make sure they are in the proper sized bottles (under 4 oz.). Put them all together in one quart-sized clear plastic bag and take them out of your suitcase for separate scanning.
  • If you have prescription medications, it’s best if you can also have a copy of the prescription, but if not be sure the package/bottle is properly labeled, especially if the bottle is over 4 oz. Be sure to pack medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, and easy to run in.
  • Dress simply. Avoid wearing anything metal: belt buckles, jewelry, metal hair clips, watches, pocket change, nail clippers, etc. anything which might set off the metal detectors at security. If you do have these items, don’t forget to take them off and put them in a bin for separate screening.
  • Bringing gifts? Avoid gifts that are wrapped, security will ask you to unwrap them.
  • Have your computer and mobile devices out from their cases and out from your luggage for separate scanning.
  • Put proper identification on your mobile devices, like your name, phone number, and where you will be lodging.
  • Travel Trip insurance and Travel health insurance may well be worth the few dollars it costs in order to be reimbursed for your expenses should a last minute cancellation be necessary, or for any accident or illness that might occur while you are traveling abroad.

Related videos with even more insight on avoiding travel snags and the expense that goes with it:

Traveling & Lose Cell Phone Charger?Have you ever lost the charger for your cell phone or mobile device when traveling? Here’s an idea that could save your mobile devices’ life when you’re on the road, from  travel reporter Peter Greenberg

Keeping Track of Your Luggage Peter Greenberg gives simple tips that can make a big difference toward preventing lost luggage, so both your suitcases and you end up at the same destination.

How to Avoid Losing Your Luggage– More tips to prevent lost luggage and the extra worry and expense that goes with it.

Avoid Airport HassleExcellent pointers to save you airport travel hassle from radio host John Tesh on checked baggage fees, early check-in, re-booking & security tips.

Consider Travel InsuranceTravel insurance could save you a lot more than just a travel headache. Consider these tips before planning your next big trip from June Walbert, USAA Financial Planner.

Traveler’s Health Insurance Travel and health insurance may be a good idea, especially for travel outside of the country, and for more costly trips, but navigating the coverage can be complicated. Travel agent Sally Watkins advises on health insurance for travel abroad.

Identity Theft? Stolen Wallet?No one wants to deal with this, ever, but especially while traveling and away from home. June Walbert gives pointers so you can be prepared, just in case.

Be Prepared Travel TipsWorld traveler Jacquelyn Richey gives her favorite pointers on staying safe while traveling with valuables, money, important papers and more.

More Money Saving Travel Articles:

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How to Save Money Dining Out, Traveling or At Home


Whether you are on the road traveling or touring your own home town, dining out can be a real wallet drain. You are at more of a disadvantage when you are in new unfamiliar places with limited resources and in a rush. But you can still enjoy dining out without busting your budget even while traveling, vacationing, or touring your own town by simply keeping a few easy tips in mind.

 

A Hotel restaurant may be convenient, but… that little bistro or cafe down the block may be a far better value. For example, we randomly selected the Hilton Hotel on Ave. of the Americas in NYC. We checked the weekday breakfast menu at the New York MarketPlace Cafe. The full American Breakfast Buffet is $35 per person. The lowest priced item on the breakfast menu was $12 for granola with yogurt, berries and honey. At the Europa Cafe, just two blocks away, you won’t get the Hilton atmosphere, granted, but you’ll get a lot of local flavor and a spinach and cheddar cheese omelet with potatoes, toast, and coffee or tea for $7.53 – that’s a savings of $27.47 over the hotel cafe. Europa Cafe’s large homemade granola with yogurt and fruit is just $4.25 – which is a $7.75 savings over the New York MarketPlace Cafe.

More in this video:

Hidden fees can appear on your dining tab. Before you pay or sign ask if a gratuity has already been added in. This applies anywhere, including in your own home town neighborhood. Some countries customarily add a gratuity in, or a “service charge”. Often a gratuity is included for larger parties of 6 or more. Ask your lodging hosts or hotel ahead of time how much of a tip is customary. Watch for extra platting charges for splitting an entre; it might be worth it to order something small and pack the extra to go, instead of incurring a $6 fee that you get nothing in return for. Ask before you order if they accept credit or debit cards, and if there is an extra surcharge for using them.

Ask your hosts or hotel if there are any specials, vouchers or coupons for restaurants.  However, when asking for a recommendation, keep in mind some concierges get kickbacks for sending you to pricy tourist traps so be sure to ask for their unbiased opinion and suggestions.

Some establishments may offer lower prices or freebies on certain holidays, or on specific days of the week, or during certain hours, like before 7:00 pm or after 9:00 pm. Check the specific restaurant you are interest in online for any current promotions, and also check online for coupons and specials at sites like Restaurants.com.

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Eat off the beaten path. Head for eateries in areas that outlie the more popular busy tourist centers. These restaurantuers livelyhoods depend on serving local residents and business people quality fresh regional dishes for reasonable prices daily, and that works in your favor.

More tips in this video:

Street Food. This can be a great way to have a quick sample of local cuisine at a real bargain, but this can also be tricky.  You want to be sure the vendor is well equipped, hygienic, and the food is good quality and fresh.

Catch this video from a curbside cuisine expert for tips on how to do that:

Cook in. Of course, a big dining money saver is to prepare at least some of your own food. You can do this, even if you’re traveling.  Shop at local farmer’s markets or nearby grocery stores and prepare a picnic. Creating your own meal just once a day can easily save you $35 or more, per person, per day.

More money saving travel posts:

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How to Get Free Gasoline! Gas & Travel Savings Perks

No matter what we “hear” on the news and in reports, the price of gas has remained high in the U.S. for several years, and that’s most likely how it’s going to remain. The gas price-crunch is a discouraging situation for those planning vacation travel that includes any driving. But there is some good news: there are ways to find deals and save some money when filling your car’s gas tank. One resource for savings is our own SpendLessTV.com’s Car & Gasoline Channel which is loaded with videos giving tons of tips on ways you can get better gas mileage and find the best prices at gas stations. Another way to receive some fuel tank savings AND enjoy your vacation at the same time, is through hotel promotions. Hotels are feeling the travel pinch too, and in an effort to entice visitors, hotels are appealing to traveler’s gas pump price woes! Here is an excerpt from the July 15, 2011 edition one of our favorite resources, the Bottom Line Personal Newsletter, which lists some current hotel promotions via USA Today:

Hotels are offering gas discounts.  Many US hotels are promoting fuel-related discounts this summer to entice travelers. Promotions include free gas gift cards, discounts on rooms when you provide gas receipts and special deals for people who carpool or take mass transit.
Examples: At Affinia Manhattan in New York City, guests can get a $20 gas gift card if they show a mass transit ticket and receipt.  Napa Old World Inn in Napa, California, gives guests who carpool a two-bedroom suite for the price of a standard room through July.  At the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, south Carolina, guests can receive a $50 gas gift card and free night if they book a seven-night stay and check in on a Saturday.

We did a Google search using the term: travel and gas promotions 2011. We found tons of current deals listed… worth taking a few moments to do an online search, or place a call, to see if your destination may be offering a special.

More travel and gas savings tips in these posts:

How to Save Money at Theme and Amusement Parks

Whoo Hoo! Theme parks, amusement parks, rides, thrills, adventure, fantasy… all spells big vacation bucks! Or does it? There are ways to save while spending time in amusement and theme parks whether that’s for a week long vacation or a day-trip adventure. Here are the expert’s pointers to getting the most for your thrill-packed dollars!

Tickets:

Purchasing your amusement park’s passes or tickets in advance, before you get to the ticket booths, can offer a real savings. Check online for specific special offers at sites like ThemeParkInsider.com, AmusementPark.com or MouseSavers.com. Do an online search using terms like: coupons theme parks, or coupons discounts Disney.

Timing can make a huge difference. If you can go “off season” you’ll save money and avoid crowds. The time of day may also make a difference for example, discounts are frequently being offered for visits after 4:00 p.m.

Opt for multi-day passes and package options. Also, before you purchase passes, consider how you want to handle your dining and food options. You nay want to include a food pass as part of  your admittance package as well. (see below “Food: Off-site may not be better for food”)

Ask for discounts: Ask if they accept membership discounts from groups like AAA, AARP, Sam’s Club or Costco, veterans, emergency workers, unions, etc. No harm in being creative and asking whatever you can think of!

  • Check with your credit card company to see if they have a promotional deal in effect.
  • Your employer may also have discount offers.
  • Always ask if there are price differences for seniors and/or students and/or children/youth.
  • Groups receive discounts. Find out what qualifies for a “group” discount; if you qualify you could receive some nice savings.
  • Locals may receive discounts. Many parks offer discounts to local residents, be sure to ask about this if you live nearby.
  • Celebrating a special event, birthday or anniversary?
    Discounts may apply, or a special acknowledgement, coupon, freebie or upgrade.

Lodging: Both on-site and off-site offer advantages, and either may end up being better for lodging. It’s well worth a little time do to some research on hotel and transportation rates and package deals that are offered both in the park itself, and in surrounding areas a little ways out from the park.  If inquiring on lodging in an area outside the park perimeter be sure to  ask if there are discounts on their room rates, and in addition, ask if they offer discount packages for park admission, and/or transportation to and from the park. Sometimes a package deal from the park with lodging on-site will be the better option but you won’t know until you check.

Food: Off-site may not be better for food. Sometimes a pre-paid package for all you can eat on-site is the better bargain. This really depends on how you anticipate spending your days and nights. If you plan on being on-site for the bulk of the time, a pre-paid package will probably be the way to go.  But if you plan on splitting your time between the park and touring or relaxing around the pool or shore, you may be better of on your own.

Shopping:  For souvenirs off-site and in nearby towns will almost always be the better way to go.

More in these videos:

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Road Trip Money Saving Travel Tips

ROAD TRIP!! There is something about the allure of the road;the freedom to be spontaneous, to take that side road just because you decided in the spur of the moment that you couldn’t possibly miss the world’s biggest ball of string or the museum of gum wrappers, or you just have to taste some local barbecue or explore that hidden waterfall. The opportunity to view the world and enjoy the scenery close and up front is often irresistible.  But even though it may seem like a more affordable mode of travel, a road trip can still be more pricey than what you had anticipated, especially with gas prices on the rise.  Well, we can’t steer you clear of potholes, but we can help you avoid some of the steep prices with these tips on how to save money while keeping your eyes on the road.

Off season. Just as it is with any other mode of travel or vacation planning, traveling during the “off season” will be a big money-saver on everything from lodging to renting a vehicle to park admissions and tourist attractions.

Book Early. Especially during the “on season.” This applies to hotels, parks, camp grounds, etc. It also applies to renting an RV. The earlier you book, the better deal you may be able to secure.

Consider a travel agent. Travel agents often have special promotional packages available to them that you cannot find elsewhere.

Go for smaller when renting a vehicle. Consider the size of your party and the amenities you’ll need, then determine the smallest vehicle you can rent to accommodate that. The smaller the vehicle, the more you’ll save on rental costs and fuel costs.

Rent RV time in bulk. Check the rental packages for buying your time in bulk, they are often better rates.

Check the RV or car rental company’s terms on mileage. Know before you go. There may be limits and penalties. Some discounts may apply to in-state only travel. Ask if any mileage discounts or specials may apply to the trip you are planning.

Avoid Purchasing Extra Equipment. Unless you are going to be doing this type of travel often, it may not be worth it to purchase extra equipment like bike racks and camping equipment. Check with your RV or car rental dealer to see if they offer packages which may include such equipment. You may be able to find good deals on this type of gear from other sports and camping equipment rental companies as well.

Rent an RV direct from an owner. You may be able to save mark-up fees and extra charges by renting a vehicle directly from the owner. One site which does this: 2RVGuys.com. Another which may also have mobile homes available is homeexchange.com which specializes in swapping homes, apartments, boats, and sometimes recreational vehicles.

Be sure you’re getting the most out of your vehicle. Before you leave and frequently during the trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition, some estimates indicate that a poorly tuned engine uses up to 50-percent more fuel than one which is running well. Make sure your tire pressure is correct; low air pressure can be a considerable gas waster.

Easy does it. You’ll save wear and tear on your vehicle, and save on fuel costs (and traffic tickets) if you keep your speeds under 60 mph; make your accelerations easy and smooth, and ease into stops. Heavy on the pedal and blasting quickly from traffic signal to traffic signal burns up the fuel fast!

Overpacking the car can be a real fuel drain.  The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it requires, so keep it light.

Food and snack shopping at pricey service stations and convenience stores add up; shop from farmer’s markets or grocery stores to create your own light meals, snacks and drinks.

Watch out when using your debit card at gas stations, they may withdraw more than the amount of your purchase to hold on deposit until after the transaction is completed by the bank.

Use the proper grade fuel for your vehicle. It’s not worth using a supreme-grade fuel if the manufacturer doesn’t specifically require it  or if the car is performing well on regular-grade fuel without engine knocks or lugging.

Service stations in the U.S. change prices between 10:00 am and noon. So keep in the know on price trends; if prices are on the rise, get there before 10:00 am, and if prices are dropping get there after noon.

Gas prices usually rise on the weekends. If you can, try for weekdays to fill your tank.

Use gas finding apps to locate cheaper stations nearby, andkeep in mind if you’re driving a heavier vehicle like a camper or RV, it may not be worth driving too far out of your way.

Gas discounts can be had from various sources. For example, some super market shopper loyalty programs have partnered with gas companies and your accumulated grocery shopping reward points are good toward fuel discounts at those stations. Another discount resource: save an easy 10% off your fuel bill if you purchase gas gift cards in advance from a discount gift card site like ShopAtHome.com or GiftCardGranny.com.

Lodging. Even though you might be staying in your vehicle you may still need to secure a reservation in a campsite, trailer park, hotel or motel along the way. Try to plan ahead for those, particularly during the traditionally busier times of year as parks can often be booked several years in advance.  Check the internet, or road assistance groups like AAA, for coupons and special discounts.

Make sure you have a good road-side assistance program. The small monthly premiums of these programs can save you thousands of dollars in towing and repair fees, and can be well worth it for the convenience alone.

Insurance. Check with your car and homeowners or home renter’s insurance company to find out specifically what you and your vehicle will be covered for. Depending on your existing coverage, you may or may not need an additional Traveler’s policy for the trip.

Anytime you are making a reservation for anything – ask, ask, ask. Ask if that’s the best they can do for you, and if there are any special offers or discounts that are being offered which you may not be aware of.

More road trip travel money saving tips in these videos:

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Save Money on Travel Lodging, Hotels, Cruises

As the cost of travel continues to rise, the price of lodging can run up your expenses quicker than you can keep track of.  Even if you do secure a great price on a hotel room, consider that if you’re traveling with a family you may need more than one room. And the tally for dining, parking, tips, surcharges, phone, minibar, entertainment, sightseeing, and transportation… can really add up.

Hotels are masters of creating an environment where your value judgment can be quickly clouded. In this excerpt from an article by for Wired.com, “The Curse of Mental Accounting” author Jonah Lehrer addresses how this happens and the ways in which our assessment of worth can be easily manipulated:

Needless to say, mental accounting also explains my expensive internet connection. In the end, expensive hotels are able to charge insane amounts of money for Cheerios and wifi because these exorbitant charges get posted to the mental account of the hotel bill, which will be hundreds of dollars anyways. As a result, the charges don’t seem quite so crazy. (This also helps explain why cheap hotels are so much more likely to offer free internet and breakfast buffets. Sometimes, we get more when we pay less.)

If you plan a little ahead of time, and arm yourself with the knowledge of what to expect and the many approaches you can use to help bring those expenses into your control, you can have a wonderful time enjoying, dining, touring museums and historical sights, or just lounging and relaxing without paying astronomical prices to do it wherever your are staying.

The key is to think ahead about what your real desire is and what your real needs will be, and then follow the travel pointers and video tips we’ve assembled here from some of the best travel experts out there… and then go for it!

Lodging:

Hotels can be pricey, we all know this. The place to start is online. Compare prices and deals through sights like tripadvisor.com, hotels.com or cheapoair.com. After you find a few prices, check the hotel’s website for special offers. Then, check sites that offer promotional discount coupons like yeahtravel.com. or FabulousSavings.com And finally, call the specific hotel directly (not the central booking agency if you can avoid it, though it’s becoming more difficult to do this). You have a better chance at negotiating or receiving price-matching, perks or upgrades and securing more favorable cancellation terms when you speak directly to the hotel. Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30 percent to online booking sites, so ASK if they have a better deal than what you’ve found online or if they can match it.

Our number one top solid sure-fire way that consistently gets discounts, deals or extras on hotel stays is to simply ask. There are almost always discounts available, but they will not volunteer that information. However, if you ask, they are usually more than happy to try to accommodate  you. It will never do you harm to politely ask.

  • Ask the hotel directly if there are any specials or discounts available that you may not be aware of.
  • Ask if they accept membership discounts for organizations like AAA, AARP, veterans, seniors, frequent flyer loyalty programs, etc.
  • Mention that you’re a loyal customer if you have frequented the hotel or the chain before.
  • If the hotel has a loyalty program of their own, you may be entitled to receive a savings or promotional deal. If you are not a member, you can sign up on the phone when making a reservation or right then and there during check-in, and if it is free to join, you have nothing to lose.
  • If you’re at the front desk in person, either at check-in or checkout, and you are asking for special considerations you won’t get very far if you are inconsiderate with your request; ask quietly to avoid putting the agent “on the spot” when other guests are within earshot.
  • The hours between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. can be particularly busy for the reservation desk. It’s check-out time, and the agent may not be able to take the time to try to work with you, so try to avoid calling with special requests or attempting to negotiate between those hours when you can.
  • Some requests are better made at check-out, for example: it’s easier for an agent to remove Wi-Fi charges from your bill than it is to wave them in advance.
  • If you need more than one room, ask if they could give you a break.
  • Ask politely if an upgrade might be available, or if the parking might be included, etc.
  • Want a more spacious room without paying more? Request a corner room.

Bidding on a room can bring huge savings through websites like priceline.com, but we advise to use this only if you are familiar with the area where you will be staying, because it is not until after you confirm the non-refundable purchase, that you  find out which specific hotel you have purchased.

Get to know a new or unfamiliar location by searching websites like tripadvisor.com which offer user reviews and photos. But don’t rule out travel agents. They will often be your best bet for accurate information as well as inside deals.

“Ask for Unpublished Rates” says GetARoom.com founder Bob Diener. He suggests to call the hotel directly and ask for the “Unpublished Rate,” which can save you 20% or more.

You can avoid many extra hotel fees. Be aware that  there are many items that may incur a fee which you may not have been informed of. Ask at check-in for an itemized list of everything they may charge you for, for example: daily newspaper delivery or an extra bed or crib.

Minibar expensescan add up quickly. Some minibars are equipped with a sensor, and you end up with a charge when an item is simply moved – even if you don’t use the item. Find out first before you check-in if that’s the case for your hotel.  Better yet, ask them to remove the mini bar contents and any other “offers” that look like they are “gifts” but aren’t, like that bottle of wine or water, the bag of snacks, or the enticing “gift basket” sitting on the counter. You can even request this to be done before you arrive.

Ask the hotel for a referral to a nearby grocery store, and supply your own snacks and drinks at a fraction of what the hotel charges.

Hotel videos and DVD rentals steep prices can be a drain, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Try renting from a nearby shop for far less.

Hotel Alternatives:

Staying in a home can be a real money saver.You get to experience a location as a resident would, an enriching addition to any travel experience. You can prepare your own meals and snacks and dine in sometimes. A family can be together without needing to secure separate or additional room rentals. Friends can all stay together and share expenses. Deposits are usually required, but would be refunded after your stay if there has been no property damage. Catch the video from the Better Business Bureau for safety pointers.

  • Rent a house or a condo. Home owners list their homes, vacation homes, or timeshares for rent.  Some resources: homeaway.com, vrbo.com, resortquest.com, and interhomeusa.com.
  • Home Swap. If you are a renter or owner of a house, condo, yacht, villa, apartment  or RV consider a home swap, or staying in a home as a guest. Often a vehicle is included in the swap. You pay nothing more than the membership fee.  Some resources:  homeexchange.com charges a minimum enrollment of three months which runs about $47.85.  homelink.org offers a yearly membership fee of about $119.00.
  • House Sitting. If you don’t have a home to swap, it is still possible to stay for free by house sitting. Seasoned traveler Nora Dunn writes about her house sitting experiences for CareOne Debt Services blog and lists three house sitting job listing Web sites.

Smaller sometimes is better. Consider a smaller hotel, pensione or bed and breakfast, ranch, or guest house. Many are privately owned and operated with detailed and friendly pride. They are usually less expensive than a major hotel chain or resort. Often a meal is included. A resource: BedandBreakfast.com.

And, even smaller: Micro Hotels. Ultra small hotels are popping up all over. Typically these offer very, very tiny paired-down rooms, with starting rates as low as $75 a night.  When they began showing up they were often geared toward the younger traveler, but with the growing budget-savvy trend for travelers, there are now many “luxury micro” hotels emerging which provide luxurious amenities. If you aren’t going to be spending much time in your room anyway, this option can offer you tremendous savings. Do an online search using the term “micro hotel” and you’ll find many. A few examples: NYC’s The Pod and The Jane. NiteNite is in London. Yotel, is in London, Amsterdam and just opened in Times Square in NYC, Spring 2011.

Location, think outside the perimeter. If your vacation plans are taking you to one of those popular busy tourist spots or attractions, try this: find your destination city on the map, but before booking your hotel there, check for outlying areas and towns a short distance from that spot. The hotel, dining and shopping rates may be considerably less, but you’ll still be very close to where you want to tour.

A word about all inclusive and Cruises:

All inclusive destinations or cruises can often be a bargain, not only in price but if you’re looking for just about as “worry free” a time as you can get, this is probably your best bet. However, it pays to plan ahead, and that also includes all inclusive vacations. There can be many pitfalls and there are always hidden costs. Find out before you go exactly which services and products are included in the “all inclusive” fare, and which will run up extra charges, like salon and spa visits, top shelf drinks, higher end restaurants, and yes, even disembarking charges. And be advised that port-of-call tours provided by the cruise line are “offered” at premium high-end prices compared to local tour operators you could secure on your own.

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Traveling? Save Money Getting There and Getting Around

Planes, trains and automobiles… busses, bikes, and taxi cabs… airport ticket prices, extra fees, and transportation costs in general take a hefty toll on your travel budget. But it doesn’t necessarily have to completely drain your wallet. Go ahead! Tour the town, sight-see, enjoy museums and historical landmarks. We’ve assembled great travel money saving pointers from the best experts in the field to help you get the most transportation cost cutting bang for your travel buck.

Booking a flight:

  • Ticket prices are usually lower when purchased three weeks to several months out.
  • Prices drop a week and a half from your departure date.
  • Prices jump when within one week to your departure date.
  • Cheapest flights leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday or Saturday.
  • Being flexible by even one day can often lead to big savings.
  • Often there are extra fees for booking over the phone. Online is the better way to go.
  • Check airline prices constantly, as often as several times a day.
  • Visit several online booking sites, like Orbitz or Kayak each lists different carriers, no two are alike.
  • Check sites that purport to be able to “predict” ticket price trends. Though not always accurate, it’s worth a try. The following were suggested in a USA Today Travel article: Bing.com/travelFarereport.
  • Foreign, budget, or start-up carriers sometimes have cheaper rates. For those try MomondoSkyScanner, WhichBudget.
  • After checking around, go directly to the airline’s websites. Often they are cheaper and you are more likely to be able to place a hold on a ticket for 24 hours. That’s long enough to possibly find a cheaper ticket somewhere else and still have that saved ticket if not.
  • Sign up for membership in credit card and airline loyalty clubs. You’ll receive email notices of special promo deals being offered to airline club members. Accumulate points to trade in for tickets and upgrades on future travel. For updates on programs & offers check WebFlyer and FlyerTalk.
  • 26 years old or younger?  Check for student discounts and/or youth discounts.
  • Senior? Check for senior discounts.
  • Travel Agents are often the best source for international travel savings.
  • Check prices for surrounding airports.
  • When booking for a party of more than three people process each ticket as a separate order. If you do them all together, they will all be booked at the highest price listed. If you do them separately you may be able to get some of the tickets at lower prices.
  • Avoid those extra fees – they’re hidden all over from the moment you try to purchase your ticket to the luggage surcharges and even check-in fees when you try to check in…And important to remember: different countries have different fees and surcharges.  Here is a list from USA Today of some of the U.S. airlines and their fees, as of 3/10/2011.
  • More tips in these videos:

Booking an all-inclusive tour as a way to secure cheaper airfare may sometimes, though not often, work.

  • More tips in this video:

Around Town  and Nearby Transportation:

Ask about the details ahead of time. If you are not renting a car or taking public transportation, ask your hosts or hotel ahead of time if there are specific transportation arrangements your place of lodging will provide you from your entry port. If your lodging hosts don’t offer this service, ask if they could recommend a reliable service, or advise you on which taxi cab service to use, what fees to expect and what tip would be appropriate. Confirm that fare with the driver before your ride begins, and ask if that fare includes extra charges like tolls and taxes.  This would also apply to anywhere else you later might be touring.  A useful site for to and from at airports around the world: ToAndFromTheAirport.com

Taxi’s around town can be pretty pricey. Again always try to confirm the fare or approximate fare with the driver ahead of time. Sometimes if you find a driver you feel particularly comfortable with, you can discuss a flat-rate option, reserve pick up times in advance, or even ask them to host as a tour guide for a reasonable price. Important to note: sharing a cab does not always mean a reduced rate. Many times the fare quoted is per person. Always check first.

Parking fees add up quickly. Ask if the hotel might wave your fees. For parking around town, there are often coupons and discounts, available. Check with your hosts, hotel, visitor’s bureau, and check online.

Bicycle. There are alternative modes of transportation that could be fun as well as less costly.  Bike tours include the bike rental in the cost of the tour.  A typical bike-only rental in the NYC metro area starts at $7 an hour on up to $40 for 24-hours with helmet included.

  • More tips in this video:

Rental Cars. There are ways to save on car rentals. In our previous post, Cheap Car Rentals, Money Saving How-to Tips, we list 22 ways to save money and/or get more for your money on a car rental.

Public busses, subway, inner city rail and light rail are good options for getting around within the town and to nearby areas. You can often purchase discounted multi-use passes for busses, mass transit and railways, some of which allow for multiple or unlimited use over a designated time period. Many do a “continuous loop” around town and offer points to jump on and off at anytime throughout the day or night. These are usually offered as a 24-hour pass, a multi-day pass, or for a week. Another option for either city-to-city or around town travel are privately owned bus or tour companies.

Country to Country Rail. Just like with airline tickets, there may be discounts available for rail. They can differ from one source to another, so do a little price checking online first, or seek assistance from a travel agency, who is privy to insider international travel offers.  And in addition, you can often purchase discounted passes for busses, mass transit and railways, some of which allow for multiple or unlimited use over a designated time period. Check these sites for more rail info: Canada: VIA Rail Canada. Europe: Eurail. U.S.A: AmtrakRailServe is a comprehensive world-wide search directory for all things rail.

Across the board, for just about anything: Don’t forget to ask about group discounts – sometimes even just a party of two can constitute a “group.”

Google maps has a feature where you can map routes for  bus, train, bicycle or by foot between 448 cities throughout the world.

  • More in this video:

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Pet Care Savings Tips

We’re always looking for ways to save money on pet needs. The price of pet care is sky-high, and unfortunately we don’t expect to see much of a change in that.  But there are ways to save or stretch your pet care dollars. We recently did a post titled, How to Save Money on Pet Care which received tremendous readership, so when we we came across a recent AAA Horizons newsletter that featured an article on some pet care savings options available to AAA members, we could not resist bringing these to your attention to help you keep your pet healthy while keeping your wallet happy, too.

From: AAA Horizons, May 2011

AAA Has Discounts for Animal Lovers

Here are.. ways to save as you care for your pets at home…

1) Save on keeping your pet healthy.  Many pet medications are eligible for a discount throgh the AAA Prescription Savings Program. When your veterinarian writes your pet a prescription, visit AAA.com/prescriptions or call (866)AAA-SAVE (222-7283) to find a participating pharmacy and to obtain a cost estimate. Then show your AAA card and your AAA Prescription Savings card (available online or from your local AAA office) to receive the discount on drugs that could also be prescribed for humans and are not covered by an insurance policy. (SLTV notes:  in other words: This only works for Rx’s which are intended for your pet but are medicines which are also used by humans, and purchased through a participating pharmacy. And, FYI:  you can also use this on prescriptions for yourself which are not covered by insurance, too!)

2) Pamper your puppy with professional care.  As a AAA member, you can save 10 percent on Fetch Pet Care services such as pet sitting and dog walking. A trained staff member will care for your pet according to your wishes and your pet’s needs.  To schedule a consultation, visit AAA.com/Fetchpetcare and use the promo code: AAAPETS or call (877)5-FETCHAA (533-8242) and mention your AAA membership.

3) Hit the road with your furry friend.  Find more than 13,000 pet-friendly AAA-approved hotels and campgrounds in “Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook.”  It’s available at your local AAA office for the member price of $12 or for farious rices on AAA.com/Barnesandnoble.

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Volunteer Travel: Give and Get More for Your Money

Saving money isn’t the primary reason for volunteer travel, but it may be a nice little perk along the way. Volunteering while on vacation is a great way to make a difference in people’s lives, have amazing, rewarding experiences and see parts of the world you might not otherwise see. Often these trips will cost you less than a typical travel holiday, and in some cases you may be able to stay for free. In addition you might even receive a tax deduction. Sounds more than wonderful to us.

Globe Aware is a non-profit  that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments. Globle Aware volunteers help to empower the host communities in creating renewable, sustainable programs with a focus on creating self-reliance. There is a donation fee and volunteers pay their own transportation. Globe Aware is an American and Canadian-registered non-profit charitable organization. All volunteer vacation program costs, including (for American citizens) the cost of airfare, are tax-deductible. They do offer a youth scholarship program which allows qualifying high school students or recent grads to travel for free.

WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a United Kingdom registered charity. WWOOF links volunteers with organic farmers, small holdings and gardeners through their worldwide network of organizations.  In return for volunteer help, hosts offer food, accommodations and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. Hosts do not pay volunteers for their help. Volunteers do not pay for their stay, but they do cover their own transportation expenses. There are many WWOOF organizations around the world. WWOOF organizations usually charge a small fee to hosts and volunteers; there is no single WWOOF membership that covers all countries.

Helpx, Help Exchange is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodations.  HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodations and meals for their efforts. Membership is required at the rate of 20 Euros ($28) for 2 years.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action.  They build with people in need regardless of race or religion.  They welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds. Costs vary, but covered with your donation to the host community’s Habitat program is in-country transportation, food, accommodations and travel medical insurance.

Airline Ambassadors. AirlineAmbassadors International (AAI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization affiliated with the United Nations and recognized by the US Congress. The basic membership of $50.00 per year enables the member to particpate in programs. All memberships are fully tax-deductible. It began as a network of airline employees using their pass privileges to provide humanitarian aid, and has now expanded to include members across a wide spectrum of professions from students, medical professionals, and families to retirees all with an interest in providing relief to children and families in need by hand-delivering humanitarian aid to orphanages, clinics and remote communities and raising public awareness in humanitarian efforts around the world. Volunteers pay their own way, but daily expenses generally range from $60 to $100 a day depending on the type of trip. Airline Ambassadors negotiates with airlines for the best possible fares for non-airline personnel traveling on their missions.

Peace River Refuge and Ranch in Zolfo Springs, Florida and The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California generally do not provide lodging for volunteers, however both Peace River Refuge and The Wild Horse Sanctuary provide tremendous opportunity for new experiences to those desiring to help, and both offer student internship programs which do provide room and board, and possible college credit. The Wild Horse Sanctuary does provide for overnight stays for vacationing guests.

HF Holidays. One of Europe’s most popular walking and bicycling holiday operators is searching for volunteers to lead their walking holidays. HF Holidays leaders are provided with accommodations, meals and the chance to explore Europe in return for sharing their passion and knowledge with groups they accompany.

More resources for volunteer travel. Travel vlogger, blogger and SLTV video contributor,  Alex Berger, alerted us to one of his travel resource sites: TravelResourceList.com, which is an extremely rich website with a throuough list on all things travel and not to be missed. There we found some additional excellent volunteer opportunities. One is: GrowFood connecting farmers interested in teaching with people interested in farming and work/live exchanges worldwide. Others are: WorkAway, VolunTourism, and PersonalOverseasDevelopment (PoD). Many thanks, Alex!

Fly for Good. This organization matches volunteers with opportunities and facilitates discount transportation via their partnership with Lufthansa Airlines. Fly For Good’s mission is to facilitate travel volunteerism and they donate a portion of their profits each quarter to a humanitarian projects.

International Student Volunteers (ISV). Selected as a Top Program by the International Voluntary Service Task Force and the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, International Student Volunteers offers high school and college students the opportunity to combine volunteer, adventure, & often academic credit into one life changing experience. Over 140 universities granted academic credit to their students for their participation in the ISV Volunteer Program in 2010.

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