10 Rules to Save Money on Your Next Vacation

10 Tips to Save Big Money

These days, airlines, hotel chains, and other travel businesses are struggling to attract customers, so opportunities to travel cheaply are plentiful for those who know how to search for deals. Here are 10 tips to make that vacation less expensive:

#1 Be Flexible to Save Big Money

First, be flexible when it comes to your itinerary. Making even the slightest changes in your vacation plans could save you big money. When flying, check out not only the day you plan to fly but also the day before or after. Departing very early or very late during the day could mean a much lower fare. Tuesdays and Wednesdays traditionally are the cheapest days to fly. You will find that Sundays are the costliest to fly domestically. Look for nearby airports rather than just the closest ones for cheaper flights. You will find that a flexible schedule will save you money on hotels as well.

#2 Check the Internet to Save Big

When planning to fly, check the airlines’ own Web sites as well as the traditional travel Web sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, or the travel search engines such as Kayak. Airlines routinely offer fares on their Web sites that can only be found there and nowhere else. In fact, some low fare airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest are not available at the major travel Web sites. Another reason to check out the airlines’ Web sites is that buying directly from them will eliminate the transaction fees charged by those third party travel Web sites.

#3 Fly Early to Save Money

Next, consider flying early in the morning. Most flights between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. were consistently more likely to be on time. If arriving on time is critical consider flying non-stop and look for less crowded airports.

#4 Pack Light and Save More

Many of us overpack when going on a trip. However, many of the airlines are now charging anywhere from $25 to $150 for checked luggage. This makes it more important than ever to pack only what you need. Consider taking only a carry-on and doing a bit of laundry at your travel destination.

#5 Negotiate and Save Big Money

Did you know that you could negotiate with the hotels on room rates? Hotel room rates have been falling in recent months especially in warm climates like Florida and the Caribbean. Skip the hotel Web sites and their toll free numbers, and call the property directly. You may find you have more influence dealing with them and they may be willing to haggle with you. Ask for that lower rate and any extras like complimentary breakfast, or gym access or free parking. Make sure you get written confirmation by mail or email as well.

#6 Travel Agents Can Save You Money

If cruising is in your travel future, use a travel agent. Cruising can be a complicated vacation and sometimes it is best to leave that to the experts. Many travel agents are given spectacular deals to offer their customers through the cruise lines that you would not find on your own. They can make sure your connecting flights to departure ports are setup correctly. They sometimes can get you negotiated extras on the cruise such as on-board credits, or departure gifts of wine and cheese in your room.

#7 Don't Make That Expensive Call

If you cruise, avoid using the ship to shore calling. Cruise ships now have the latest in ship to shore calling, faxing, or even Internet access; however, they come with a very steep price. Try to avoid these and wait until you are in a port of call to make them. You will find many Web sites that offer you guidance on which ports have facilities for those important calls or faxes.

#8 Save on Car Rentals

A lot of us rent cars when we travel. It may not be necessary to buy their insurance offered at the car rental desk. Your auto insurance or the credit card your using for the rental may be enough insurance. Contact your auto insurer or credit card company before traveling and get those questions answered.

#9 Use That Credit Card Wisely

When traveling your credit card can be your friend. The Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to dispute any discrepancies and limits your responsibility to $50 for unauthorized credit card charges. Using cash or writing a check does not offer you that same protection.

#10 Don't Forget the Discounts

Many of us forget to take advantage of the discounts we could be taking. Many discounts are for seniors, children, students, military personnel, government workers, members of AAA, or AARP just to name a few. However, travel businesses will not offer them and you need to ask.

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