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Savvy Travel Tips

Travel on a Budget

Take a vacation without spending a fortune with these helpful resources and insider tips.

By Elizabeth Schatz Passarella
Woman in overhead compartment Greg Clarke

If you’re lucky, you’re reading this story in a tropical locale, while smoothing on sunscreen and mulling over another mai tai. More likely, you’re reading it in your living room while also checking for the latest dismal financial news and wondering if a medium latte is worth the extra 79 cents. But everyone deserves a getaway now and then―and it doesn’t have to break the bank. The trick is to know how to make the most of your vacation dollars. Fortunately, cheap flights abound, not all exotic destinations have multiple dollar signs next to their names, and options exist for families that don’t require booking a block of hotel rooms. Here, travel-industry experts offer savvy solutions to the most common financial obstacles you might face while planning a trip. Which means you can skip town without losing your shirt―unless you have your swimsuit on underneath.

If Flying Seems Too Pricey...

1. Check fares regularly. Why? They are finally going down. "In 2008 airlines cut capacity so they were able to survive without discounting fares too much," says Brett Snyder, an airline-industry veteran and the founder of the blog "But because of the current economy, we’ll see some price cutting." Bookmark these sites that compare prices and alert you via e-mail if a selected fare has changed:,,,
 2. Explore non-U.S. airlines for international travel. Thanks to recent changes in the Open Skies agreement between the United States and Europe, several overseas carries, like Aer Lingus, can now fly between a number of U.S. and European cities. (Find out who flies where at or Within Europe, you can save money by flying on a regional discount airline, like easyJet (, Jet4you (, or myair (, instead of on a major carrier; one-way flights can run as low as 22 euros (incredibly, that’s only about $28).
 3. Drive! Gas prices are down, so take advantage. Here are some road-trip planning ideas.

  • Visit to find a national park within driving distance. Deborah Trevino, a travel adviser at Hobson Travel, a trip-planning agency in Naperville, Illinois, recommends Utah’s Capitol Reef, Arizona’s Lake Powell, and Michigan’s Isle Royale. For more destinations, visit, the website of the U.S. travel and tourism industry.
  • Start with a theme. Lonely Planet’s new TRIPS guide books (Lonely Planet Publications, $20 each, list itineraries in six different regions organized by interest, such as history or food.
  • Check your tank. With’s "Tank of Gas" tool, you type in your hometown and indicate how much gas you want to use (full, half, or quarter tank). The tool lists destinations within reach.
Read More About:Planning

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