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  • 25 Great Ways to Save On Your Next Vacation

    Photo By Ruth Black / Stocksy

Saving money and having the time of your life might seem like conflicting messages, but they aren’t. In fact, the opposite — by being savvy in your choices for transportation, lodging and eating, you can greatly enhance your vacation... Have a great trip!

shot taken from inside a car looking out windshield while driving on a beautiful mountain lake road

Ruth Black / Stocksy

Nailing the Road Trip

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Drive, Don't Fly

If your family vacation destination is less than 500 miles away, you’ll save a bundle over buying four round-trip air tickets. Plus, you’ll save all that airport hassle and you’ll have your car and gear with you

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Use Cruise Control

It can reduce your fuel use by 7 percent on the highway.

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Plan Your Gas Stops

Gas prices vary by state mostly because of different tax rates. So before an interstate trip, plan fill-ups by checking gasprices.aaa where you’ll find average gas prices in each state.


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Inflation Can Be a Good Thing

In warm weather, tires can lose air at a faster rate, reducing gas mileage by up to 4 percent. Check them before you leave and keep them inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.

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One-Way Wonders

In late spring, rental car companies move their fleets north from Florida; in late fall, it’s the opposite. If you are migrating in the right direction you can cash in on drastically reduced one-way rates.

A price sign at a gas station showing 259 for regular and 279 for diesel gas


Save at the Pump

Monday is the cheapest day of the week to buy gas in most states, according to GasBuddy. Tuesday is your next best bet. Saturday is most often the most expensive day to buy gas, followed by Sunday and Friday.

three dimensional illustration of an airplane flying among paper clouds against a blue sky. the plane is made up of airline ticket stubs and baggage receipts

Photographed by Dan Saelinger; Prop Stylist: Dominique Baynes

Dodging Hidden Fees

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Book Flights Online

Most airlines now charge anywhere from $10 to $45 if you buy your ticket on the phone or at the airport, so shop online. If you do need to speak to a representative, try to negotiate the price, ask about discounts and request an e-ticket to bypass a surcharge (up to $75) for a paper ticket.

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Don’t Pay “Loyalty” Reward Mile Fees

We all thought that if we were “loyal” to one airline, our accumulated miles would give us a “free” trip. Wrong. Now some airlines charge you for cashing in your miles. So be loyal to airlines that don’t do this, such as JetBlue and Southwest.

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Don’t Pay for Earlier Same Day Flights

In the old days, if your airline had a seat on an earlier flight to your destination, you could get on that flight for free. Today you almost always pay at least $25. Either fly Southwest or stick to your confirmed flight.


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Bring Your Own Comfort

Don’t take an in-flight blanket or pillow for granted anymore — or even a free cup of coffee. A “sleep set” may run you $8-$15, and you’ll likely be charged for movies and Wi-Fi. So toss a travel blanket and pillow along with a good read into your under-the-seat carry-on, pack a snack and enjoy your flight!

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Mail Your Luggage

The number of airlines that check bags for free is dwindling. If you’re traveling in the U.S., consider sending your bags ahead via the U.S. Postal Service. This takes time and planning but can save you money and frustration. It also allows you to insure your luggage and track its progress.

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Look Behind that Big Hotel Discount

If you’ve scored a fabulous rate, call the hotel to see exactly what's included. Like airlines, hotels have started “unbundling” services: You may pay extra for the gym, the pool, Wi-Fi or even an ironing board.


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Avoid Astronomical Cellphone Charges

If you’ll be traveling abroad, see if your cell phone provider offers an international plan that’s worth the cost. Otherwise, put your cell phone on airplane mode to avoid an unpleasant bill when you get home.

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Pack the Right Credit Card

Many credit cards tack from 1 to 3percent onto charges overseas. About a dozen forgo these “foreign transaction fees.” Check out these cards at sites like CreditCards.com and CardHub.com to make sure that benefits aren’t outweighed by high annual fees or interest rates.

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Bring Your ATM Card

Pass up the foreign currency exchange kiosk—you’ll likely get a bad rate. Use an ATM instead.

close up with shallow depth of field of brand new cars

Michael Bodmann/Getty

Renting a Car? Know This

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Choose the Right Car

If all you need is a compact vehicle, be sure to reserve one and save on fuel costs. If there’s no compact on the lot when you arrive, the clerk will probably offer you a discounted upgrade. You can say no. Most companies will upgrade you for free if they don’t have the car you reserved.

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Compare Rates

When shopping around for a rental car, go to sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com that will compare rates for you. AutoSlash.com will do some of the work for you — taking your information, searching the Internet for the best deals and rebooking you automatically at lower rates.

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Consider Paying Up Front

Many car rental companies offer good discounts if you pay when you reserve. Just be sure you’ve shopped around a little and your plans are firm, because with this option you can’t cancel without paying a penalty. And be certain you’re not making a nonrefundable reservation.


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Search for Online Discounts

Look on sites such as Promocodes.com. Or Google the name of the rental company with the words “coupon code” typed in after it. You can often use a coupon code and a discount code together.

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Avoid Picking Up at the Airport

You can save a lot of money on the car you want if you take a cab or even public transportation to a site outside the airport. Many rental companies even offer shuttles from the airport.

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Don’t Buy Insurance Twice

Chances are you can forgo purchasing car insurance from the rental agency; be familiar with your policy and also with what coverage your credit cards may offer.


SAVE WITH AARP:  Members can save up to 30 percent off base rates at AVIS and Budget Rent A Car. And with your AARP card you can get an upgrade on compact through full sized car bookings, based on availability.

A senior couple, holding hands, wades through a beautiful red slot canyon in Utah. The walls are rising up high on both sides above and around them.There is a hiker a short ways ahead of them as they hold hands and trek through the water.

FatCamera/Getty

Hidden Travel Bargains

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Check Different Travel Dates

Shifting a flight arrival or departure date by a single day can save you a surprisingly large amount of cash. Flight search engines like Matrix.ITASoftware.com show lower-priced options.

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Get an America the Beautiful Senior Pass

If you’re 62 or older, $20 a year will get you and a carload of people admission to more than 2,000 national parks and recreation sites. That’s a savings of $60 over a regular annual pass.

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Stay in Business Hotels on Weekends

The road warriors are gone and so are the high prices. These hotels will be in the business district—which isn’t always the most vibrant part of town—but that’s a small trade-off if you’re getting a good deal.


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Pre-Plan for Daily Deals

Before traveling, subscribe to a daily deal website like Groupon or LivingSocial in your destination city and take advantage of discounts at restaurants and attractions. You can easily access the vouchers from your mobile phone.

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Take Free Excursions

To enjoy the educated perspective of a local resident in select cities around the globe, visit globalgreeternetwork.info. There’s also neweuropetours.eu, which offers no-cost walking tours with locals in New York, Britain, European cities and Israel. For similar offerings, call the chamber of commerce in your destination.

an amtrak great dome car train skirts the shore of Lake Champlain along the tracks surrounded my a high cliff wall and fall foliage.

 
Take the Train

A train ride can be a great way to see some scenery in comfort, and without the stress of driving. Amtrak has a 10-percent discount on most fares for those 62 and over. And Via Rail Canada offers the same discount for travelers over 60.