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How Do YOU Save on Travel Expenses!?

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If you’re planning an upcoming trip for Spring Break or starting to plan your Summer vacation, you may be looking to save on travel expenses and to find ways to make traveling go more smoothly.

Check out these travel tips from Susie and Roxy…

One tip is to download the Marriott app for great check-in and check-out experiences. The app prompts you to check in BEFORE you reach the hotel, as much as 24 hours before, and it asks your expected arrival time. I always get a notification that our room is ready by the time I requested, regardless of how much before actual published check-in time it is. Also, upon arrival, skip the entire check-in procedure at the front desk. Just pick up your room keys at the designated area. You also check out in the app as well. Room type request like top floor, away from the elevator, etc. can be entered into your account and they honor them when assigning your room.

I don’t know how many of you use Priceline when you look for a hotel, but if you’re not familiar with it, it’s worth checking out. Whenever we travel, we bid on hotels and we get better rates than we would any other way. The downside is you don’t know what hotel you get until your bid is approved and you pay, but you can pick the area and number of stars and we’ve always been satisfied. We were in Destin this summer and every hotel was asking for $100 a night but we got a room at Marriott for $80 and one year we stayed at a super fancy 4 star hotel for $50 a night.

With that being said, how do YOU save on vacations, hotels, car rentals and other travel-related expenses? Share your tips below!

Join The Discussion

Comments 123

  1. Anna

    Book ahead! We priceline car rentals for pennies on what they charge at the counter. I’m shocked to see people walk up and pay whatever the “sticker” price is. We could never afford a car this way but literally have always spent less than $20/day (unlimited miles) in Fort Lauderdale. Always fill with gas yourself (a small headache but they charge a really high rate to fill it back up for you). Oh and find out if your personal auto insurance policy covers you in rentals. Again another added fee that you may not need to pay.

    • Angi

      Also check your VISA (or other credit cards) sometimes your rental car is insured with them if you pay for it with that card. Check the fine print or log in to your online account. My rental cars are insured through my VISA. Most insurance companies also insure rentals. They try to scare you at the rental place so you pay for their policy .

  2. Casey

    I love Hotwire!! I have gotten the nicest hotels this way. I got a $250 a night hotel really close to NYC for only $89.

  3. Care Bear

    I would recommend Krupps. They are located in Twin Lakes Mi. and are a family owned business. We have never been there in the summer but always stop while snowmobiling. They are very helpful and have a small area they serve food at which is always fresh and homemade.

  4. Katrina

    I LOVE this topic!

    I keep an eye on prices on Frontier.

    Fly on off days, not weekends Fridays or Mondays.

    Stay at a hostel. They have private rooms cheaper than a hotel.

    Don’t check bags. Take a carry on and buy laundry detergent when you arrive.

    My American Express has rental car insurance coverage as long as I put the rental on that card. Saves me hundreds with one rental.
    Check your cards and your own car insurance policy. You might already be covered.

    Take snacks to avoid airport food costs (unopened food).

    Search Groupon for the area you are traveling to for discount tickets, admission, etc.

    • Angi

      I never check bags! Hate it! Bought packing cubes and I roll my clothes. I can get everything I need in a backpack and a carry on. If i need more I wash clothes at a hotel or laundromat nearby. I always check google maps to see what is nearby. If you zoom in you can see store names and stuff.

  5. Lynne

    We always look for a hotel with a fridge in our room. That way I can pack milk, juice, lunchmeat, yogurts, etc in a cooler and fill the fridge when we get there. We usually pack sandwiches for a quick lunch while we are out for the day and have a large meal out somewhere in the evening. That way we don’t spend time trying to find a place to eat with three hungry kids.

  6. Carrie

    Priceline “Name Your Price” + use biddingfortravel website to find out what hotels you’ll most likely get and what the lowest price you can offer and still win is

    Use Ebates when you purchase your flight/hotel/rental through priceline then put the ebate rebate you get in a vaca fund jar

    Use credit card points for restaurant gift cards in the area

    You can bring mini shot bottles through airport security bc the fluid oz is small enough and then just mix with the free pop they give you on the plane

  7. Melanie

    When traveling internationally I use companies like Gate One and Trip Masters. The total for airfare and hotels combined is typically less than what airfare alone would be.

  8. T

    I frequently stay at candlewood suites when visiting my boyfriend who’s in the army. Anyone know if they have a rewards program or how to get a room there for cheaper? Thanks 😊

    • JaxJay

      Most military bases have TLF (lodging facilities) which is basically a hotel on base. usually way cheaper than a hotel off base. There’s websites to see if there’s one at his duty station then he can call/go there and see if there’s available space for you at the time you decide to visit. He just has to check you in the first time. Good luck!

  9. Gretchen

    We use we have had good luck finding rental cabins that will give you a big discount on cancels or off peak travel times. Also, we have stayed at several that will. Give you a big discount on a future stay if you leave a good review. Our family of 5 has actually been able to take some long weekends in Tahoe for $100 in lodging!

  10. Emily

    We use Hotwire for hotels when we are really familiar with the area and can predict what hotels we are getting. This is great for rental cars as well.

    We also use because you get a free night for every 10 you book. It uses the avg price of what you’ve booked and deducts that from your 11th night.

    Credit card points for gift cards. I used to buy restaurant gift certificates for the new area on or book things to do with groupons.

    We also get gift cards at the grocery store to earn has points. On vacation, we try to make lunch and eat out for supper.

    At the beach instead of renting things, we bought a cheap cooler, boogie boards and an umbrella and used them all week. We were flying home, so as we checked out, we gave them to a family in the lobby.

    If I know in advance where we are going, I sign up for the mailing list for the attractions that we are interested in and look back through their Facebook pages to see if they ever offer discounts or advance purchase discounts. And if those are better than AAA, etc.

  11. Jennifer and choose flexible dates if you can. You can saves hundreds if your dates are flexible. Airbnb is good and Priceline. Get coupon books at rest areas. Research buying tickets for shows online because they have significant a discounts as opposed to buying at the door sometimes.Choose a place with a washer/dryer and with a small kitchen or kitchenette even. Bring a cooler from home filled with sandwich stuff and with picnic items. Especially if you are driving it’s fun to picnic at rest stops, vista points, or parks. Another thing I do is if we stay in a condo I bring my crockpot and frozen dump meals. I also put hotdogs in the crock turn on low and by the time we get back to condo later on they are perfect. Pack Frozen bottles of water in your cooler. It serves as ice and then water as it melts. Use gas buddy to find the lowest cost of gas along the way. I only buy souvenirs that I will use, like a t-shirt. Let your friends and family that are staying home know in advance that you are on a budget so you won’t be buying souvenirs. They won’t expect them if you mention that beforehand and then if you find a great deal on something after you get there they will be pleasantly surprised. Be very careful not to mess up the room so you won’t lose a deposit. I cut my brother’s hair on vacation last year at the beach on the patio and because I didn’t get all the hair up I lost half my deposit. Supposedly, it took the cleaning lady a lot longer to clean up**sighs. My favorite tip is to put a box somewhere in my house about 2 weeks before vacation and every time a random item pops in my head I need to take I stick it in the box. I rarely forget anything this way. I also keep list on my phone from everywhere I have been so I look back at those lists each year then add to them, ex beach list, camping list. This keeps you from having to run out and get whatever you forgot which may cost more. This is a lengthy list, what can I say I am a professional vacationer!

    • Karen

      Love these ideas! Thank you!

      • jennifer

        Your so welcome!!

  12. Rachel

    My husband is a government employee. We use his discount sometimes for hotel rentals or we use With vrbo, we research and get exactly what we want without paying for extra amenities that we may not need at other places. We also don’t mind driving instead of flying.

  13. britt

    Reward points, packing food via store and keeping on hand less eating out : ) !! Our favorite travel hack with our toddler is the Catchie for car ride helps a lot!

  14. Natoli

    Spirit airlines has fairly cheap flights but you will have to pay for a carry on it cheaper to buy 1 luggage and if you can fit all your family’s clothes in one bag you’ll save the most.

  15. Natoli

    I sign up for gas rewards like bp,shell,Kroger,speedway and more if you plan on driving rewards really rack up. Any of these will save you money also download gas buddy app that will let you know the cheapest gas prices around. ⛽️

  16. Wassup

    This sounds crazy but we didn’t realize it is actually cheaper to buy your airline ticket at the airport counter. We live 5 minutes from our airport so we go online at home, find the date/time/flight# we want, drive to the airport & go to the counter & give them the flight info. We usually save $30-$40 per ticket from the websites online price! If you live/work near an airport check it out next time you are booking a flight.

    • Chantal

      Thank you for the tip! What are the names of the airlines that you have gotten a discount at the airport counter? What specifically do you say when you get there? Do you get this discount all the time or just some of the time (maybe you can give a percentage so we know how frequently this works)?
      Thank you! Thank you!

  17. Susie

    From an avid (frugal) traveler since a breast cancer diagnosis 6 years ago when we learned all those places we wanted to go “someday” needed to be now, I have some tips.
    1) Decide where you want to go and set travel alerts on Travelocity & Trip Advisor. They automatically shoot you an email when airfare to that city drops below the $ amount you’ve set the alert for and they check all airlines.
    2) Check out the Vacation packages available on Travelocity to your desired location that include airfare, hotel, and rental car. Check it everyday (clear your history, cookies, and cache first each day). The prices vary a lot. Be prepared to book it when you get a great price because that price may not be available even just an hour later. I always pay less for the entire package than just the hotel alone would cost, and it’s always flying from the east coast to the west coast.
    3) If your traveling with family, rent a house instead of a hotel. Plan your “schedule” to be able to cook most of your meals. Make your meal plans, make a grocery list from the meal plan, find a Walmart along the path from the airport to the rental and buy groceries for the week.
    4) When doing the national parks, such as Yellowstone & Grand Teton, buy a cooler with your groceries. Pack lunch, drinks, and snacks for every day. Give the cooler to somebody there the day you fly home, you’ve saved a ton of money even though you paid for a cooler and the recipient is always grateful to get it.
    5) For activities, check Groupon for that city. Just be sure you won’t be in a time crunch to use your voucher as I have found they use groupons to fill in when the provider isn’t already booked solid.
    6) At Disneyworld, stay on property, it’s worth it. Choose to book at a time they’re offering free dining.
    7) At Universal Orlando, stay on property at a hotel that includes the express pass for free. It’s worth it. Disney & Universal were learned through many trips trips there as my kids were growing up. It costs more, but some things are priceless.

  18. Naomi

    I never get a round trip ticket. I get two one way tickets. I got my tickets from Houston to Miami the week before I was supposed to travel for less than $250. Don’t be afraid to use two different airlines.

  19. Tracy

    When booking hotel and car rentals I use Expedia or travelocity to find the one i want then go through ebates directly to their site. Also check back periodically before your trip. Most hotels and car rentals you can cancel up to the day before so if you find it cheaper cancel and rebook.
    If booking airline I again check Expedia or Travelocity then boom directly through the airline. It’s not necessarily cheaper, but it’s easier to change tickets if there are delays or cancellations the day of travel.

  20. Michelle

    Whenever we vacation at Disney World, we rent Disney Vacation Club points through It allows us to stay in Deluxe resorts at a huge discount, sometimes even less than the price of Disney’s value resorts.
    And if you have the flexibility to plan last minute trips, you can sometimes take advantage of massive discounts. For instance, we could book four nights at Disney World’s Saratoga Springs Resort midweek in February for just $360 TOTAL!

  21. Sonya

    Don’t forget to check Groupon and Living Social for your destination. You can often find great deals!

  22. Suzanne H

    Buy a water bottle with a built in filter. Fill on the go and you don’t have to pay for bottled water b/c you are too scared to drink the local water (although I would still be cautious in locales where the water is especially problematic).

  23. V

    When you buy a flight, buy 2-3 months in advance so 1, the best, most direct flights aren’t sold out and 2, get a PARTIAL REFUND!!

    I have a trip in March, booked in Dec through Southwest and was credited $86 when the pride dropped.

    My trip in May I purchased last week through Alaska Air. They refunded me $83 when another website posted the same flight at a lower price.

    This depends on each airlines’ best price guarantee. Southwest is really easy to rebook for the difference credited. Alaska Air gives your difference back in cash if you find it cheaper on another site within 24 hrs of purchase and fill out a quick form. US Air was my most difficult ever, but will refund you for a dropped price, minus $200.

  24. Soulgirl8

    When planing to backpack Europe, buy your Eurail pass WITH your plane ticket from an agent. Youll save half price AND get to travel first or second class. Third class is VERY uncomfortable for long trips.

    ALSO buy a 5 day Paris museun pass. It will save you $200. Plan 2 says at the Louvre. 1 day for Monet, Manet. Another for Rodin and the Marquis de Sade…great fun there…lolol

    Plan your hostels with Rick Steve’s backdoor guude. I stated in a CASTLE in Athens for $6 a night and watched the world cup with people from 8 countries. ..SO MUCH FUN!!! We drank Ouzo and everyonr brought in good and shared .

    I spent $600 to see 6 countries.

    Then I had $400 and spent 10 says in Crete diving. People there invited us out for free EVERYTHUBG, boating, meals and diving.

    Don’t be afraid to be open and friendly. People are very sharing and we stayed in peoples homes, were fed local food everywhere. We simply brought wine or local bread to meals.

    Ask at hostels for free stuff. I went to Pompeii and the Acropolis free. There are free data ec everywhere, just ask. Shop or sightsee during the other times. Planning is the key.

    I planned each week and adjusted my schedule as info in free activities became available.

    But memory cards beforehand cheap and keep them organised in a waterproof pouch.

    Have fun and stay relaxed.

  25. Marie

    How does a family of 5 save on hotels when most hotels only allow 4 in a room? We cannot afford to get 2 hotel rooms per night!

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