Regardless of the type of trip you are planning, there are a number of ways that you can save money.
If possible, book domestic flights three weeks before the departure and international flights four or five weeks before the departure. Usually you get the best deals on your tickets when you fly during the off season on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Take advantage of layovers and alternative routes, particularly if you would like to visit multiple cities during your trip. If you’re flying to a city with a secondary airport, check the flight options at both airports.
If the brand hotels are a deal breaker for an upcoming trip, look into budget family-run hotels or guesthouses and apartment rentals. Airbnb, vrbo, and Wimdu are all great resources for apartment rentals. If you would really prefer a standard hotel, try the name your price feature at Priceline or Hotwire or look for package deals on Expedia that include discounted hotel rates.
Plan your meals ahead of time, scouting restaurants online and in travel guidebooks. Skip breakfast at the hotel and opt for a local bakery, cafe, or coffee shop instead. Take your biggest meal of the day at breakfast or lunch, as these meals tend to be less expensive than dinner.
Renting a car is often one of the most expensive parts of a vacation. If you don’t need a car or you only need a car for part of the trip, just book it for the days that you need it or skip it all together. Whenever possible, avoid taking taxis and opt to use public transportation.
Finally, when planning a trip, take advantage of discounts as much as possible. Look into loyalty hotel programs, such as the Mariott program, and annual fee-based programs, such as AAA. Don’t forget to look into discounted rates at varying attractions as well. For example, many theme parks and museums offer lower ticket prices for children, senior citizens, and military members.