7 Ways to Save Money on Travel

Traveling is good for the mind, body, and spirit, but it can be pretty bad for the wallet. If you're ready to skip out of town—but want to save a few dimes so you're still in good shape when you get home—here are seven ways you can save money while traveling.

1. Be Flexible with Your Flight Dates

The difference between Sunday and Tuesday can mean several hundred dollars in savings. Instead of being hard and fast on your dates, leave a little wiggle room so you can snatch up the best deal.

2. Pack Lunches

One of the most expensive parts of any trip is meal time. Sure, you'll probably want to treat yourself to an awesome dinner while you're away, but you don't have to spend every dollar in diners. Instead, fill up your hotel fridge with cold cuts, cheese, and bread so you can fill your family's tummies without spending your whole paycheck in one place.

3. Fly During Unpopular Hours

You're getting to the same place, whether you fly out at 5pm or midnight. Why not choose the flight nobody else wants to be on? Those red-eye flights can save you several hundred dollars.

4. Live Like a Local

People who live in vacation destinations don't abide by vacation prices. They've got their own hole-in-the-wall diners, and they stay true to the people who do great things for their communities.
Chat it up with locals when you're at a bar or standing in a check-out line. You'll be amazed at the gems locals are willing to help you uncover!

5. Be a Frequent Flyer

Even if you only get to fly once in a blue moon, it pays off to have a membership with a major airline. Frequent flyer mileage adds up pretty quickly, and if you're getting hotels and rental cars on the same account, you'll double your benefits.

Frequent flyer mileage isn't only applicable to flight discounts; you can also use it for upgrades with the airline, discounted hotels, and cash-back rewards, depending on the program your airline-of-choice uses. If your airline of choice offers gift cards, you could even consider waiting until the winter months to purchase these; they get discounted at the end of the year.

6. Call the Hotel Directly
Most people don't realize that even discounted fares online aren't the lowest price a hotel is willing to offer. In fact, when you utilize a third-party service, you're often paying more because you're paying for the company's service fees.

Cut through the expensive extras by calling the hotel directly. Ask if there are any specials available. If you'll be coming in late, you can often get great deals because the hotel already knows how many rooms it will (or won't) sell.
This is one instance in life when it's great to be late to the party!

7. Check Out Free Days

Once you know where you're going, pen all the places that would be great for your family to visit. This is just a brainstorming session, so you don't need to put anything down in a particular order.

Once you've filled out your list with plenty of possible options, look online to see if any of them offer free days. Zoos, museums, and aquariums, for example, have a habit of offering free days at random times. If you can save yourself from paying entry fees for fun things, you've got extra money for something else you may not even have budgeted for!

The key to saving money while traveling comes by being proactive. Make sure you've checked out the current prices for everything from hotel stays to day-trip getaways. How do you stretch your wallet during out-of-town excursions? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

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