Americans spend close to $2,500 on a typical summer vacation, one of the larger expenditures a family makes in a year. The fun of a great trip, however, quickly evaporates if there is a huge credit card bill to pay when you return home. Here are ways to trim expenses once you hit the road:
1. Ask for a break // Hotels, restaurants,
car rental agencies and attractions, including
theme parks and museums, often
offer discounts to members of large
groups,such as AAA or AARP. When making
a reservation or checking in, always
ask whether you are getting the lowest
rate available. Hotels charge differing
amounts for the same rooms depending
on occupancy, what season it is and
whether you are a member of a group.
3. Pick your card // Not all credit cards
are created equal, so think about which
one you want to take, especially if you
are going abroad. Consider which card
has the lowest transaction fees.
4. Be careful with the cash // ATMs
can be a great way to get foreign currency
once you get to a country. But before
you leave, call the customer service
number of your bank and ask how it calculates
the exchange rate and what extras
it tacks on for purchases in a foreign
currency. Use your debit card rather
than a credit card.
5. Shop for currency // Don't just head
to the airport exchange kiosk to buy foreign
currency. Shop around or consider
a discount exchanger like International
6. Be careful about commitments //
Looking out a hotel window at an idyllic
waterfront or gorgeous mountain
range makes you want to stay forever,
and hotel operators such as Marriott, Hyatt
and Hilton sell time shares, a way to
let you buy into that scene. Don't make
a snap decision to buy, and don't pay the
full retail price.
7. Plan your activities // On cruises,
think about creating your own shore excursions,
says Stewart Chiron, who operates
the cruiseguy.com Web site. This
requires some research before you
leave. Read travel books and go online to
see what tourists do at the ports where
you will stop.
8. Use public transportation // In New
York, a seven-day, unlimited-use Metro-
Card is only $24 and is good for unlimited
subway and local bus rides for seven
days. In London, a three-day peak-use
subway ticket for the central part of the
city is $32, about the cost of one taxi fare.
9. Look for coupons // Pick up tourist
booklets and magazines. They are full of
coupons and offers for restaurants, activities
10. Rough it // Camping is far less expensive
than hotels and often is just as fun.
[Los Angeles Times]
Money-savers on the road
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