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12 Ways to Save Money on Travel

Want to cut costs on the road? Pack peanut butter, and follow these other tips

  • Photo by Sam Kaplan

    1. Choose a destination based on its "restaurant week"

    En españolSamantha Brown, AARP Travel Expert. These are held during a city's slack season for tourism. You'll eat at top restaurants at a fraction of the regular cost. Be sure to reserve!

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  • Photo by Sam Kaplan

    2. Be a house sitter

    The website TrustedHousesitters.com matches travelers with homeowners needing their pets and homes looked after while away. 

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  • Photo by Sam Kaplan

    3. Last-minute deals

    The mobile app HotelTonight finds big discounts on hotels without having to book ahead of time.

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    4. Update your documents

    Be sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your overseas travel dates. Otherwise you may be turned back by countries strictly enforcing entry requirements—which could add to the cost of a trip.

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    5. Don't pay for pricey massages on the road

    I travel with pinky balls (sold in toy stores for about $4). Stand on a ball to work out your arches, or use one for a back massage.

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    6. Travel with peanut butter

    It's cheaper than buying airport or airline food, plus you can pair it with lots of foods, like pretzels or bananas. Just remember, it will count as a carry-on liquid.

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  • Photo by Sam Kaplan

    7. Buy second-class train seats

    Rick Steves, Travel Show Host. Throughout Europe, first-class tickets cost about 50 percent more than second-class ones. The difference in comfort is usually minimal.

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    8. Get cash overseas at ATMs

    On average, you pay 8 percent for foreign cash at an ATM. At currency exchange booths, you tend to lose around 15 percent.

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    9. Check for last-minute deals at business hotels

    Hotels in commerce centers like Brussels or Oslo offer deep discounts when traffic is slow. During summer and weekends you can get a fancy $300 double room for $100.

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    10. Get your rental car in town

    You might pay up to 25 percent more to pick up a car at the airport or train station instead of in the town center.

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    11. Use local cash

    You might be drawn to a store advertising "we accept dollars." But your purchase costs about 20 percent more when paid that way.

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    12. Go carless in urban centers

    Why pay rental and parking fees while touring a city on foot? Pick up your rental car after the first big city and drop it off before the final big city of your trip.

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Samantha Brown is AARP's travel expert. Rick Steves is a European guidebook author and TV travel show host.


Video: Great Way to Save on Vacation Lodging

AARP's Travel Expert Samantha Brown reveals a little-known website for finding inexpensive travel accommodations.

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