Friday, February 19, 2010

Frugal Fridays: Travelling Frugally

WOW! It is already Friday, and time for the weekend again. This weekend we are headed out of state to visit family so I figured I would share some tips for frugal traveling. Travel, whether it be for a full-fledge "vacation" or simply a run out of town to see some family or friends, travel can definitely put a dent in your bank account. Below are some ways that you can try to save a dollar or two while still getting to head out of town on a needed break.

* When we travel, whether it is just a 2 hour trip to visit friends in the upstate, or an 8 hour drive, I always try to pack some snacks for the ride. Stopping at convenience stores along the way for "snacks" tend to add up. If you have room, you also might consider packing a small cooler with drinks. When you arrive at your destination, these snacks can also come in handy for those "midnight snacks" instead of trying to dig for quarters to get something you really don't want out of the expensive vending machines.

* On long trips, I remember my mom packing a cooler for a "picnic lunch" when there were several of us travelling. We would stop at a rest area with picnic tables and everyone eat sandwiches, chips and drinks. This not only saved money, but also allowed everyone to get out and stretch their legs. When you travel with a large group, this will also be a "speedier" way to eat so you can get back on the road to your destination instead of wasting an hour or more sitting in a restaurant trying to serve a large group.

* Eating out is something you usually can't avoid when traveling, but you can try to eat cost effectively. If staying at a hotel, find out if your hotel offers a free breakfast. That will take care of one meal if so! :o) Also find out how late they serve breakfast. If they happen to serve it a little later, you can always eat a large breakfast at 10:30 or 11:00 and that might tide you over so you dont have to eat lunch and can just pack a snack for lunch, saving your money to spend on a nice dinner.

* Think twice about buying that knick-knack! A lot of people always want to buy souveniers when they go somewhere to "take back a piece of their vacation" with them. That is perfectly fine to do, but I would suggest you make that purchase wisely. I started a tradition a while back where we buy a Christmas ornament where we visit. That way at Christmas time, we can look at the tree and remember all the places we have been together and what great vacations we have had. After the holiday, they are boxed up and stored to enjoy the next holiday. Magnets, coffee mugs, thimbles or those little doll size forks with decor on the top I guess are great for collecting, but eventually they seem to end up in yard sale or Goodwill donation boxes. And in my house, all they would collect is dust, which is one thing I dont need help doing.

* Hotel loyalty programs. All hotels seems to have them these days. You basically sign up for a "membership" (which is free) and every time you stay at that particular chain of hotels you earn points. As your points build up, you earn free or discounted rooms. Unlike credit cards that you earn credits for (which seem to take years before you actually have enough points to earn something), these points do tend to add up quickly. In the last two years we have gotten several nights free with just staying a few visits.

These are just a few ideas of saving some money while traveling. Now, I better get off of here and finish my packing so we can hit the road soon. Do you have a favorite tip to share for saving money while traveling?

Happy Saving!

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