Everyone likes to save money, but it is especially important in these economic times. The only way many of us will be able to travel this year is if we stick to a strict budget. After years of globe-trotting, I have learned many tips, tricks, and strategies for saving money on any type of travel. Here are five helpful money-saving websites:
1. Gasbuddy.com. While gas prices have decreased slightly, the cost remains more than $3 a gallon (closer to $4 in some parts of the country), which makes it a major expense that has to be factored into your summer vacation budget. Go to their website or load this FREE app onto your phone (Android, iPhone, Blackberry). It will find the nearest gas station with the lowest prices no matter where you are in the United States. GasBuddy even provides additional information, such as per gallon price averages nationwide and detailed maps leading you to the station with the lowest-priced gas. This tool can save you up to twenty-five cents a gallon, which really adds up after a few fill-ups.
2. Restaurant.com. Feeding the family is another major expense while on vacation. Buy discounted gift cards to great restaurants to save big money. Participants can choose from 18,000 restaurants (and growing) in popular tourist cities, such as Las Vegas and New Orleans. Here’s how it works: pay $4 and get a $10 gift card or pay $10 and get a $25 card or pay $50 and get a card valued at $100. This equals savings up to 60%. Just go to their website, place your order, and the cards are shipped to any address with no shipping fee.
3. Bing.com/travel. This is a great tool that most folks do not know about. It allows users to search multiple travel sites, check price predictions, compare rates, and even book travel directly with the supplier of choice. The best thing is that it will give you an accurate forecast as to whether fares will go up or down, which means you’ll know whether you should grab the current fare or wait for a lower rate.
4. Citypass.com. Citypasses are available for many major cities and tourist hot spots, such as Hollywood, New York City, Toronto, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Chicago. The pass bundles admission to popular tourist destinations, including aquariums and zoos, museums, tours, and other attractions. The savings can be as much as 50%.
5. Traveltribe.com. This is a good resource for anyone needing help planning their trip. You can connect with other travelers who have “been there and done that” and expert travel agents who will help you, free of charge.
If you want the best rates, beware of these common mistakes:
- Don’t rely on popular travel sites.
- Don’t try to book your own cruise.
- Don’t ignore social media.
- Don’t let “hidden costs” ruin your budget.
- Don’t call the toll-free central reservations number when booking a hotel room.
By following these tips and strategies, you’re guaranteed to save money when traveling. It may even be enough savings to add another day or two (and another round of margaritas) to any trip.
Terrance Zepke is an award-winning writer/photographer and the author of The Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel: Save Up To 90% on Lodging, Flights, Tours, Cruises, and More!, numerous travel references, and several other books. Learn more about her and her books at www.terrancezepke.com.