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5 Tips to Save Money on Travel (to Anywhere!)

No matter what type of vacation you’re planning—a two-day stay in Boston or a two-week getaway to Hawaii— you’ll want to save money on travel expenses. After all, the last thing you want to think about on your vacation is how on earth you’re going to pay your bills when you get back. The best and easiest way to save money, and enjoy a stress-free trip, is to plan ahead. Most likely, you’ll want to set a budget for your vacation. Before you leave, figure out which of the following money-saving tips will be useful at your destination. Once you know where you can save money, you’ll be able t o see how much cash you really need and decide how to allocate money to the areas that you can’t skimp on.

    1. Eat Alternatively:One of the fastest ways to watch your wallet empty is to eat out for all your vacation meals. It can be tempting, and seemingly convenient, to hit one of the food stops set up to grab tourists, but there are other, much cheaper options. If you’re traveling in the car or on trains or buses, bring your own snacks. The prices at places where you can’t go anywhere else to get food are skyrocketed (think the snack cart on the train or the rest stop on the highway). If you really can’t bring snacks with you from home, it’s worth a trip to the grocery store when you first arrive at your destination. For breakfast and lunch, you can make things that don’t require a full kitchen, like bagels, fruit, and pb & j sandwiches. If you’re heading out for the day, pack a picnic. If you don’t have a place to cook dinner, remember that it is usually cheaper to buy take out than to go to a sit-down restaurant.
    1. Find Accommodations That Are Centrally Located:If you’re able to stay at a hotel or motel that’s right in the middle of all the action, you’ll be able to save money on transportation costs. In many cases, you can walk to attractions, and even if you’re driving a car or taking public transit, you’ll save money on gas or cheapen the cost of bus or train tickets. In some places, centrally located hotels may be more expensive, but you don’t have to stay in the most luxurious 4-star hotel you can find to have a great vacation. If you’re by the beach, do you really need that indoor pool? Can’t you live without 800 cable television stations for a week? If your answers were “ No” and “I guess so” respectively, think about looking for less extravagant accommodations in exchange for prime location.
    1. Look for Free Admission Days:This may surprise you, but many attractions—especially museums—offer days where admission is absolutely free. These free days are sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly, and they sometimes last a few hours rather than the whole day. However, if there’s an attraction you really want to see, it’s definitely worth it to check out its official website and see if a free day falls during your visit. The only downside is that the attraction may be more crowded than usual during the free time.
    1. Keep in Touch with Your Friends:There are two ways that staying on your friends’ good side could help save money on accommodations. The first—you may be able to avoid accommodation costs all together if you have a friend (or family member) who lives in the area of your travel destination and is willing to share his or her home for a short while. If you live in a popular travel spot yourself, offer to repay the favor when your friend i s in the area. Or offer to cook dinners while you’re there (ah, save money on food too!). If this isn’t an option, think about cutting accommodation costs by going on vacation with a friend. If you have enough people to split costs, it is sometimes cheaper to rent out a house or cottage than it is to book a hotel room for a whole week.
    1. Find out About Transportation Passes:If you’re traveling to a destination that boasts a good public transportation system (most major cities), you can save money on travel by buying daily or weekly transportation passes rather than paying as you go. Most public transit systems offer deals that will save you money if you’ll be using their vehicles several times a day. For example, as a tourist in Boston, you’re likely to spend at least $4 per day, per person, on public transportation on the T. However, a 7-day pass costs only $15, saving you upwards of $10 in a 7-day period. Other cities offer similar deals, and in many cases you can even purchase your pass before you go.

Whichever of these tips you use, the planning you do before you hit the road will help you save money on your trip, promising a more enjoyable (and maybe even lengthier) trip. Enjoy your vacation, wherever you’re headed!

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