If you're loath to trip the annual vacation out of your family budget, look into ways you can cut costs without sacrificing the fun. Here are 10 tips, some of them culled from the experts at Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel
, that can help you get the most for your money.
- If you can't cram everything into a single carry-on bag (though it is possible), consider shipping your luggage to your destination instead. With airlines charging upwards of $100 extra for your single suitcase, the FedEx fees may actually cost less than bringing the bag with you.
- If the main reason you need to check your bag is so that you can bring a stash of your favorite liquid or gel in a larger-than-3-ounce bottle, consider making a pit stop at a drug store near your destination to stock up instead.
- Forget the kitschy clutter, and stock up on edible souvenirs instead. They're inexpensive and easy to find at your destination's grocery stores.
- When renting a car, do more than make note of any dings or damage before you drive out of the lot -- take pictures as well, to put an end to any debate once you return the vehicle.
- Plan ahead, and reserve your rental car online at the lowest price you can find. If you arrive only to find that the car agency has sold out of the economy cars, they'll upgrade you to the next largest vehicle for free.
- Look into chartered flights as well as regular commercial fares. Tour operators that book packages sometimes sell seats on just the flights for much less than the big airlines.
- Consider vacationing with your best friends -- and their kids. Renting a townhouse or villa can be more cost effective than several nights at a hotel, and multi-bedroom apartments still offer plenty of privacy.
- It seems counter-intuitive, but when booking a hotel room try not to mention your AAA, AARP, government, or military discounts until after you hear the room rate in order to avoid getting stuck with a higher price.
- If you're off to visit the Mouse, grab discount tickets to the Disney theme parks at Costco, so you can pay less for all of those rides.
- Flying to a major metropolitan area? Be sure to check out the prices at other airports that are close by. The distance between Laguardia and JKF airports in New York may not be that far, but the difference in airfare can be vast.