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10 Ways to save money when traveling

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Smart tips for frugal travel

Everyone likes to get away from it all, but if you're on a tight budget, taking a vacation can be more stressful than relaxing. Don't spend your hard earned vacation time worrying about how you can afford it --instead, plan ahead and eliminate that worry before you even leave your house. Here are ten ways to help you save money when traveling!

1. Eat Out only Once a Day

You're in a new place, so you'll more than likely want to sample the local fare, however that doesn't mean you have to eat out for every meal. Settle on one meal a day to dine out, and go to the grocery store for inexpensive snacks and picnic type foods for the other two.

2. All aBoard!

Look into taking the train. It may take longer, but if you have the time, taking the rail to your destination instead of a plane can save you a tidy sum.

3. Wheel and Deal

If you're on a road trip look for a hotel that has an empty parking lot, especially if it's late in the day. This may mean they have many rooms open and you might be able to strike a deal. Of course you have to be bold enough to approach them about this, but many times, a hotel would rather rent a room at a lower price than not at all.

4. Avoid Tourist Traps

Visit places when it's not popular to do so. For example, avoid openings of attractions and peak seasons. Furthermore, if you're heading somewhere tropical, you might want to check out places that are recovering from hurricane damage, as these areas will most likely be in need of guests and be offering cheaper prices. Also, look for places that aren't huge draws, such as less popular islands or cities that aren't popular tourist attractions.

5. Become One With Nature

If you don't mind roughing it, camping is a cheap way to go when traveling. In San Diego it only costs $20 to set up a tent in an area park, as compared to a $100 plus hotel room.

6. Check Into Discounts

Ask hotels, rental car companies and even restaurants if they offer discounts for any kind of memberships, such as AAA or AARP, or for holders of certain types of credit cards.

7. Free Things to Do

Before leaving for your vacation, research the local attractions, museums and the like for free or discounted days and plan your itinerary accordingly. (Check out our Geoparent site for regional and local discounts and freebies!)

8. Use Public Transportation

Taking a taxi can be hugely expensive if you plan on going to a lot of places once you've reached your destination. Depending on where your hotel is, you may have to walk a few blocks, but using a subway or light rail system will be a lot cheaper than hailing a cab every time you want to go somewhere.

9. Crash with Friends and Family

If you know people who live near a city you want to visit, why not ask if you can bunk with them for a couple nights. If you can avoid paying for overnight accommodations -- which is often one of the most expensive parts of a trip -- then you'll have extra money to do other things, like taking your friend out to dinner for letting you stay with them.

10. No Extras

If you do stay at a hotel, don't order room service, dip into the mini bar, purchase movies, buy internet access or use the phone for long distance calls. These activities are designed to take your money, so avoid them whenever possible and instead seek out cost-effective alternatives. Also check out how much parking is before you go. If the hotel's rates are astronomical, research other parking options.

 

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