Six Unconventional Ways to Save Big on Travel

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Traveler's Toolbox  

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When you’ve already opted for a vacation rental over a hotel room, grocery shopped instead of dining out and kept your travel dates flexible to save on airfare, you may think you’ve reached your limit on budget travel for one vacation. But if you’re looking to make your dollar go the extra mile this vacation — so you can spend more money on the things you really want to do — these off-the-radar ways to save are exactly what your wallet ordered.

#1. Don’t Be Afraid of Disasters

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When a natural disaster or political unrest occurs in another country, many North Americans are afraid to travel there long after the disaster has taken place. This lack of interest in an area brings the price of flights and accommodations down, so you can enjoy your vacation at a fraction of the usual cost.

#2. Cruise to Europe Instead

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The euro may be crushing the Canadian and United States dollars right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to cancel your European vacation. Visit Europe on an American cruise line (search transatlantic cruises) and pay a fraction of the price you’d pay purchasing airfare and nightly hotels. The upfront price you pay in Canadian or U.S. dollars will cover your accommodation and food costs entirely. Even better, you’ll get to travel to multiple parts of Europe without paying for additional plane tickets, train tickets or car rentals.

#3. Pretend You’re on Business

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Business hotels tend to be slammed Sunday night through Thursday night, but they go virtually unused on weekends. Stay at business oriented hotels, like Courtyard by Marriott Business or Holiday Inn Express, on Friday and Saturday nights to cut the cost of your weekend getaway.

#4. Call Before You Book

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The convenience of booking online has led us to pick up our laptops before picking up the phone, but talking to the hotel directly can save you big bucks on accommodations. Ask the hotel their lowest possible nightly rate, and you’ll probably find that it’s even lower than the discount travel site you’ve been using. Ask for senior discounts (if applicable) or extended stay discounts to knock even more off the price of your total stay.

#5. Book on a Local Website

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Visiting a friend in another country? You could save huge by having them purchase your plane ticket, accommodations or car rental in their local currency. Of course, you’ll have to pay them back when you arrive (or earlier), but if you’re traveling to the right country, the exchange rate could work greatly in your favor. If you don’t already know someone in the country you plan to visit, you may still be able to save big on a car rental by purchasing it on the foreign country’s website rather than the Canadian or United States-based version.

#6. Ask About Repositioning

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Airlines and cruise lines reposition airplanes and cruise ships multiple times per year. Call the airline or cruise line you’d like to travel to see if they’ll be offering a repositioning flight or cruise around the time you plan on traveling. While this is only an option for travelers with a flexible schedule, you can enjoy a less crowded and much more affordable cruise or flight with similar amenities to the full-price version.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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