Travel on a Shoestring

Are you itching for a vacation but tight on cash? I know I am….We usually travel to North Carolina in May but this year with all of the doctor appointments, there was not time.  I will be celebrating in my “pink bubble” in July and am planning some trips for the fall.  One will definitely be to North Carolina and maybe even surprising hubby with a trip to Maine.  SHHHH!  It is a surprise!!!

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So this week, we are going to talk about travel tips – from saving money to being organized ensuring that you don’t forget anything.

Here are just some tips quick tips to help you save money on your next trip:

#1 Airfares:  I don’t know about you but I feel like every time I turn around there is a change in airlines – mergers, acquisitions route adjustments and more. It may not seem it but the airlines are vying for your dollars. I know the additional charges for EVERYTHING is crazy but you can still get some good deals.  Finding the best fare is the trick. I have been checking rates on Hipmunk.  I have found some of the BEST rates there.  Let’s SQUASH the myth that round-trip tickets are the least expensive option today!  I have found that one way tickets are sometimes better – combining airlines can be cost effective.  Finally, purchasing up to 6-8 weeks before your trip will most likely result in the lowest price. PLUS flying mid-week and at off-peak times like early morning or late evening will result in cheaper fares.

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#2 Hotel Rooms:  I know that you have seen all of the commercials about the difference in hotel room rates, right?  Just like flying, sometimes the cheaper option is to arrive mid-week and depart before the weekend rush.  Maybe you can’t afford that 5-star hotel BUT  you may still be able to enjoy some of their amenities during the day. They may sell day passes to access the pool, spa or gym. Their restaurants and bars are also an easy to way pamper yourself even if you are not a guest of the hotel. There are lodging alternatives like airbnb.com or VRBO.com that offer vacation rentals at cheaper rates.  Just be sure to do your homework.

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#3 Meals:  Eating out and exploring new restaurants can be part of the fun while in a new city, but it can also be very expensive. We have always either brought our own snacks and breakfast when driving OR when we fly,we find a local grocery store and stock up on snacks, easy breakfast items and bottled water.  Booking a hotel that includes breakfast or even afternoon snacks in your room rate is a great option too.  Simply eating “in” for one meal a day will save you a lot of money over the course of your vacation.

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If you like to pack your vacation with activities and excursions, planning ahead is also a smart way to save money.  Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer discounts on tours, activities and show tickets. When doing things online, be sure you are set-up with Ebates.  This will give you money back every time you shop online with one of their stores, including Groupon and Living Social.

What is your best tip for saving money when you travel?  Share it with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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