Money Saving Tips for the Road

7 years ago



If you and your family are checking bags, consider flying Southwest if possible. Not only are their airfares very competitive, but they check your bags for free!

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are generally the least expensive days to fly.

For international flights, check both the airline you want to fly and any US-based codeshare airline. For example, when flying from Orlando to Paris, check both Air France and Delta. You'll be booked on the same flight, but one airline may offer a much less fare.

Check websites such as Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia for fares amongst all major airlines to find the lowest fare. Then book the ticket on the specific airline's site. This can save the fee that these travel sites can tag on to the airfare.  


Ask for the concierge floor rate. While it may be $50 or more a night, it will include breakfast, usually a light dinner and complimentary water and soft drinks. When traveling with a spouse or children, this can save a lot in food and beverages.

Instead of drinking the water available from your hotel room (usually $5 or $7), buy bottles of water at a store or the hotel gift shop. Your hotel room's bottle of water is almost always the most expensive. Or, as you return to your hotel after a walk or run, ask the outdoor concierge for a bottle of water (almost always free). 

When booking a room for a weekend, go to the website of the specific property you want to stay at rather than visiting the hotel chain's website. The specific property will often display the weekend rate that is not shown on the main site.

Instead of ordering room service and paying the delivery and service fees, order from the restaurant but tell the host that you'll pick up your meal when it's ready. This easily saves $5 or more per meal. Better yet, order from local restaurants via phone and pick up your meal on the way to the hotel. Outback Steakhouse has a great call-ahead program and special parking spots where a food service brings the food out to your car.

Local Transportation

Rent a car from a location other than the airport if possible. The airport fees, taxes and insurance are less from non-airport sites. A $42.99/day car quoted for pickup at Houston's Intercontinental Airport cost 20% more in fees than a car rented at a non-airport location.

Take a complimentary hotel shuttle bus to your hotel; and book a car for the next day to save a day's rental and pay the lesser fees.

If returning your car to a different city, check various car rental companies to find one with a no- or low-drop off charge.  

Use coupons (Entertainment Books are great!) to get car rental discounts for weekly or week-end rates.

Use public transportation in cities where it is widely available. Not only does it cost much less than renting a car, but it gives you a tour of the city you're visiting and exposure to parts of the city that you would not normally travel through.


For every flight, hotel stay or car rental, sign up for the company's award program. Discounts may be sent to you and you'll be on your way to free benefits.

If you have an AAA or AARP membership, always check for hotel, car rental, tourist attraction and local store discounts. In fact, there are so many discounts available from AAA that the money saved can easily pay for the membership and more! Look for AAA's iPhone app which gives you all discounts for the zip codes you're traveling to.

If your airport charges for wi-fi, you can usually avoid the charge by sitting outside an airline lounge (Continental's President Club, for example) as the wi-fi signal often is available near their door.


Carol Margolis

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