Hassle-free money-saving travel tips

Everyone knows that you can have a great time with family and friends when you go on vacation or travel to a new and distant place. However, sometimes disaster can ensue when things don’t go quite as planned or expected. Here are some tips and hints that can help ensure your vacation is affordable and hassle-free.

AIRPLANES

To be flexible. When booking your flight, do not tell the reservations agent your travel dates in advance. Instead, ask the agent to check each fare for the desired itinerary within a range of dates. Ask for the cheapest rates first. If you are flexible, you may be able to reduce ticket costs.

Buy tickets after midnight on Tuesday in the time zone where the airline is located. In general, airlines start selling airfares late on Friday and rival airlines compete with the lower fares. They usually stop matching lower rates on Mondays. Customers who book low fares will have 24 hours to purchase the tickets. Any low fares booked on Monday but not purchased by midnight on Tuesday will be available for sale at that time.

HOTELS

Make a hotel reservation on Sunday at 4:00 PM. You’re more likely to get a low rate from a clerk who understands that an unsold room means lost revenue. Call directly the hotel in the city you want to visit. Do not call the 800 number – you will most likely reach a national reservations agent.

Request weekend rates. At some hotels, weekend rates are a third of regular rates. If you plan to stay during the week, ask to extend the cheaper weekend rate. Make sure the listed price reflects hidden costs such as resort fees and taxes.

Consider alternative accommodation. Many hostels now offer private rooms for $25.00 to $160.00 per night. For more information, log on to Hostelling International USA at [http://www.huisa.org]. Also, some colleges rent out their dormitories at reasonable rates during holiday periods.

CRUISES

Book a last minute cruise. Ships regularly sail with empty berths. Many routes regularly have more berths than passengers. If you are flexible you can get great last minute packages. Contact a travel agent or consolidator. Please note that cruise lines now charge for extras that were previously included in packages, such as some recreational activities.

RENTAL CARS

Please contact the local rental location. Local operators can offer deals to reduce a temporary surplus or base themselves on the local market. Calling the national toll-free number to make a reservation may not get you the best price or the best car.

Whenever possible, avoid renting lots at airports, which can be more expensive than in the city. Compare local and national rates at RentalCars.com. Make sure you only pay for what you want and need. Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a car.

Additional insurance –
Your personal car insurance policy may include rentals and the credit card company may cover damage to rental cars, but they still may not be enough. To maximize your coverage:

– Make sure you have sufficient collision and comprehensive coverage on your car policy.

– Pay for the rental car with a credit card that provides extra cover.

– Check for car rental companies that have an agreement with your insurance company to provide additional coverage. For example, USAA offers additional coverage for Avis, Budget, and Hertz cars in most locations in the United States.

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Reserve drivers –

Most companies let someone else drive the car for free. But some charge extra for every other person driving the car, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Please ask before booking. Breaking the rules can affect your insurance coverage. If your partner has an accident, you may have to pay for the repairs out of pocket.

gassing –

When you return the car, you have the option of refueling it yourself, prepaying for a full tank at a flat rate per gallon, or paying a refueling fee when you return with less fuel than you started with. Fuel costs can be extremely high. You may get a better rate if you fill it yourself.

RETURN POLICY
– Return it where you picked it up if possible, or be prepared to pay more. The drop-off charges are based on the distance between pick-up and drop-off point.

Late Fees –
Return the car on time. Most rental companies give you an hour grace period, but don’t test it. Late returns can lead to high overtime costs.

CAR TRAVEL

The AAA makes “summer driving season” sound so mandatory, like something terrible is going to happen to you if you don’t clock a certain number of interstate miles by Labor Day. If you enjoy road trips, here are some tips to make your trip go more smoothly.

Leave early, stay late. To avoid rush hour traffic, especially during holidays, depart a day earlier than other travelers and return a day earlier or a day later.

Plan ahead.

Know your route and have an alternative plan in case of heavy traffic or road closures. Carry a vehicle safety/emergency kit. Make sure your car is in top condition. Long summer trips put a lot of stress on a car. Request a pre-trip check-up.

Tires must have sufficient tread. If you don’t know what to look for, have a mechanic check the entire width of your tire, including the rims.

Brakes should be checked, usually by having a mechanic remove all four wheels. Pay attention to the thickness of the brake linings and shoes. The calipers, devices that create friction when you press the brake pad, and the rubber hydraulic lines should also be checked.

Steering components, such as the front end and steering-related parts, including the ball joints and bushings, should be examined.

Take your time.

“It’s better late than sorry.” Plan extra time and arrive safely. Take a 15 to 20 minute break every few hours and stretch your legs. Don’t forget to drink enough. Don’t eat and run. Take a walk after dinner to get your blood flowing.

If you are traveling with children, pack toys, books, games and snacks within reach to keep them entertained. Try a recorded story or sing-along. Also try these two tips. Hang a bag over the back of the front passenger seat to store toys, bottles, crayons and other favorite items. Give older children maps of the United States and pencils, markers, or pens. Then they can watch while driving