budget talk

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide To Travel Bargains

Right now it seems like we can’t win when it comes to traveling. Gas prices are creeping up to $4 a gallon, which puts a squeeze on both road and air travel. But as Budget Smart Girls know, there’s always a way round high prices. Whether you’re hitting the road or taking to the friendly skies this summer, here are some tips and sights to help your money stretch further.

You might have found somewhere cheap to stay, but now it’s getting there on a budget. A couple of sites to check out include www.cheapflights.com and www.cheaptickets.com. Last year I chatted with Marita Hudson Thomas who is part of the CheapTickets Cheap Squad and she offers the following tips-
1. We all know about traveling in the off-season to save money. Did you know each vacation spot has what’s known as a ‘shoulder-season’? Right now that’s places like Mexico and the Caribbean.
2. Don’t be picky about the days you travel. Most people like weekends, but Budget Smart Girls can save big time if they don’t mind traveling on Tuesday, Wednesday, and sometimes Thursdays. And if you can, avoid a Saturday-to-Saturday vacation.
3. Be flexible, if you have no problem with taking an early morning or late night flight, you’ll get the best deals.
4. Opt for an air/hotel package. On average you can save around $200.

If a trip to see the world’s most famous mouse is in your plans this summer and you’re in a large group or hate hotels, check out this site that offers homes that are available for rent in the Orlando area www.allstarvacationhomes.com One of my cousins, his wife and their two children rented one last year and said it was a great idea. The house had its own swimming pool, the kids had a playroom equipped with toys, they saved a ton of money by cooking their own meals in the kitchen, and they got free car rental included in the price.

New York, New York
Are you thinking about a trip to the Big Apple or surrounding area but worried the price of a hotel room is going to drain your whole budget? The New Jersey Office of Travel and Tourism suggest staying on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Getting back to the New York side is an easy ferry or train ride away. It takes ten minutes and it’s another way to do some sightseeing.

From Home to Home
If you travel to different locations each year, one thing you might want to check out is a membership ($99.95 per year) with Home Exchange where you can swap homes with other vacationers. www.homeexchange.com

Eating Out
Eating out three times a day can quickly drain your vacation budget, but there are a couple of ways around it.
1. Book a hotel room with a kitchen or at least a fridge and/or microwave. Eat breakfast and lunch in your room and save your money for a nice meal out every evening.
2. Stop by a local supermarket and pick up some items for a packed lunch. If you’re traveling by air and don’t want to take a cooler with you, buy one of the cheap Styrofoam coolers you can pick up for less than $5 at supermarkets or drugstores. Then load it up with goodies to take out and about with you. This is a great idea if you’re going to an amusement park. Food there can be double the price. And you can still keep the kids happy by eating homemade sandwiches and then letting them choose a dessert like ice cream from one of the park vendors.
3. Look for a hotel that includes a free breakfast with the price of the room. Some can just be coffee and a pastry, but others include waffles, cereal bars, yogurt and juice.
4. Be an early bird, just like your hometown, many tourist areas have restaurants that offer a reduced price on meals if you eat during their slow time, which is normally 3-5 p.m. It’s the same food, but sometimes $5 cheaper. And eating early means more time for evening sightseeing.
5. Ask the Locals. If you’re looking for cheap places to eat, ask someone who lives there. Most people can direct you to eateries with great food and reasonable prices.
6. Check the local tourist office-this doesn’t just apply to food, but tickets for amusement parks, etc. Most tourist offices have discount coupons and books they hand out.

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