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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

9 Top Tips for Saving Money on Summer Travel

For more money-saving tips on summer travel, tune in to WTOP Radio in Washington, DC today.

On the Road

1. Renting a car? Go off-airport. Airport fees and taxes can double the average daily price of your wheels.

2. Try bidding for a budget car on opaque "name your own price" websites. You may not know which brand you are getting until you pay, but one mid-size rental car or minivan is basically the same as another.

3. Forget the car and take local transportation. Most cities with train and bus systems have discounted visitor passes. To get around even more economically and environmentally-consciously, note that many cities offer bike share programs where you can rent a two-wheeler for 30 minutes, three hours or three days.


4. Heading to a hotel? Watch for extra fees. Does your hotel charge for overnight parking, in-room wi-fi, or late check-out?

5. Heading to a resort? Watch out for the dreaded daily resort fee. These fees, which ostensibly are used to cover anything from the coffee in your room to the use of the gym to the morning newspaper, are sneaky ways for properties to advertise lower nightly rates while still billing more. Many properties charge up to $25 a day for the resort fee, which is nearly impossible to opt out of, even if you don’t plan to use the services included.

6. Does the resort have a free kids program?  During the summer, some resorts do offer complimentary kids programs, which can be a big cost-saver and a relief for harried parents looking for a few hours of we time on the golf course or at the spa.

In the Air

7. If you are flying with baggage, and you don’t want to pay the freight, there are two options.

   A. Fly an airline that doesn’t charge for the first checked bag, like Southwest or JetBlue.
   B. If you do fly the Uniteds, Americans or Deltas of this world, get an airline-branded credit card.
If you book on the airline website with its branded card, you will not only get a free checked bag for everyone on the reservation, but you also get to board earlier than most economy passengers. These credit cards can cost about $95 annually, but the first year is often free. If you end up saving more than $95 in baggage fees the first year, cough up the cash for a renewal for continued savings.

8. Find out which new airlines are coming to an airport near you. Oftentimes, carriers new to a market offer extra-low introductory fares.


9. If you are flexible on where you want to go, look at sites like Groupon Getaways and Living Social for money-saving travel packages. Many tour operators offer these sites extra-low prices in order to drive traffic to their own websites. Also, Groupon and LivingSocial are good places to scout out dining and activity deals in cities to which you are traveling.

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