Readers' Money-Saving Tips
We recently asked via our blog for some tips on how to really stretch a dollar—and you more than came through.
Below you'll find some of our favorite tips. You can check out the whole list—and add your own—here. (60+ comments)
WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
Jessica had a simple but effective tip: "Travel in the off season!" Similarly, Lili wrote, "I highly endorse off-season, mid-week traveling. I've always planned my trips during these times and have yet to be disappointed. Seriously, prices are too good to pass up. I once paid $250 RT from NYC to London during December. It was actually warmer in London than it was in New York."
Victor saves money "by choosing destinations where I don't need to rent a car: Miami and Washington, D.C., were two recent examples."
For airfare and hotel bargains, Moren Andersen praised so-called metasearch engines, which "scan the web across hundreds of travel websites simultaneously" and "give an overview of the cheapest flights. This means that hours of searching can be replaced with one search on one site with an even better result!" His favorites included Momondo, Mobissimo, and Kayak. He added that you should "remember to search several of these search engines to make sure that you find the best fare."
Melissa Woods pointed out that "good planning is a time saver. In addition, she saves money "by cutting vacations short a few days and condensing my sightseeing. It seems faster paced, but cutting one day or more could mean I saved $100 or more per day."
And Cara agreed that you can save money by "researching your destination" before you go. "A well planned day saves you time, effort, and unexpected expenses (e.g., [having to take a] taxi ride across town to the Louvre before it closes)." "Read blogs, boards, and the like to get hints on cheap/free things to do, cheap modes of transport, etc. Look for off-the-beaten track activities that usually don't cost much, if anything. For example, I attended a great organ concert in Westminster Abbey for about 5 pounds, and it was performed by the current organist for the church—amazing!!"
Wandermom said to "search for airfares well before you want to travel (i.e. 6+ months) and watch the fares regularly. Fares on the same route change over time. The trick is to buy your seats at or near the low point. Tools like Farecast can help with this."
Kenneth suggested a little low-effort price comparison and bargaining. "When attempting to find the lowest hotel prices online, get a price from the major online travel agencies and then call the hotel directly and inquire about the price. Most often they will honor the online site prices, except for [offers from] the auction or bidding sites, [such as] Priceline and Hotwire. Being a member of AAA, CAA, AARP or having a coupon from the Entertainment Value Book helps also."
Lisa Siverman mentioned that her daughter "has used "CouchSurfing to connect with a number of places to stay for free. This tends to be something that young people would be more comfortable with!" For herself, she added, "Occasionally, if the airport is not far from the city, we will stay [near it] for the cheap rates and choose [a hotel] with a free shuttle."
Wandermom weighed in with a family-travel tip: "Book hotels with breakfast included. It's amazing how long a kid can go with a good breakfast. Reduces total food costs." (She has more family travel tips on her own website.)
Char's family travel idea was to "look into cabins at state parks or RVs at travel parks. Some RV parks have onsite trailers to rent by the night or week. Some even have separate bedrooms and you can cook and snack out your own kitchen. Cheap or free entertainment at parks can include canoes, horseback riding, put-put golf, and movies."