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Road Trips the Thrifty Way

5 tips to keep your travel expenses in check

  • Rent it: Depending on the condition and fuel efficiency of your family car, you may want to consider renting a car to use for your holiday travels. Most rentals now come with unlimited miles, so if you plan to drive very far in a short period of time, it may pay to leave your car parked at home and pick up a more fuel-efficient rental instead. Also remember to check with your insurance agent, because often, personal auto-insurance policies also cover rental cars.
  • Bring it with you: The old-fashioned ice chest has become the fashionable travel accessory of the new economy. When you drive on your holiday travels, it's easy to pack one along and save some big bucks. Also, by shopping carefully for sodas, snack foods, and sandwich-making supplies before leaving home, you can probably save 80 percent of what you'd spend at vending machines and other roadside stops. Plus, the fastest food of all is just an arm's length away in the ice chest.

  • Hop aboard a Chinatown bus: Traveling the Eastern Seaboard? Even if you have your own set of wheels, you can't beat the so-called "Chinatown buses." (For info, Google "Chinatown bus"—with the quotation marks around the phrase.) These independently operated bus lines run between the Chinatown areas of major cities, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The buses are even sprouting up on the West Coast and Midwest. Comfortable with air conditioning, restrooms, and even wireless service, the buses are clean, on time, fast (most are nonstop), fun, and dirt cheap—sometimes as little as $35 round-trip from Washington, D.C., to New York City.

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com and you can friend him on Facebook at JeffYeagerUltimateCheapskate or follow him on Twitter.

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