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8 Travel Tips That Save You Money

Try these strategies the next time you're making plane, car or hotel reservations

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1. Hotel upgrade?

Never book a premium hotel room or luxury car — unless it's a very special occasion and you're worried about availability. Instead, save money by reserving a standard room or car and then asking for a free upgrade upon arrival. You can even get on-site upgrades on discounted rooms.

2. Freighter cruises

Looking for an offbeat cruising experience at a reasonable price? Check out You'll travel with the crew and cargo aboard a commercial vessel — usually with very comfortable room and board — and save a boatload of money.

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3. Pre-trip planning

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

4. Last-minute lodging

Most travel apps offer significant discounts for same-day hotel reservations. It's a great way to get a deal on high-end lodging.

5. Free extras

La Quinta Inns & Suites, Hampton Hotels, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites and Quality Inn offer guests free breakfast and free Internet access.

6. Confirm it

When you reserve a car, always ask for a confirmation number and an email confirming the reservation. When you pick up the car, verify the cost before signing the agreement and ask whether a better rate has become available.

7. Duty-free dealing

Except for cigarettes and liquor, few duty-free purchases are cheaper. Even then, U.S. Customs allows only 200 cigarettes and 1 liter of alcohol before making you pay taxes. Other goods, such as jewelry, watches, electronics and perfume, are often priced higher, so it's smart to check prices at home or online before you go overboard at the airport.

8. Sightsee for free

The National Park Service has several free admission dates each year at national parks and attractions. Check and search "free entrance days" for dates.

Contributors to 99 Great Ways to Save 2013: Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, Tara Finnegan Coates, Joan Rattner Heilman, Stacy Julien, Megan Lawson, Marlece Lusk, Bob Lyford, Anne Masters, Jeff Yeager and AARP members like you.