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Make the Most of Your Travel Dollars

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An Insider’s Guide to Saving Money

Flights

Buy roundtrip tickets. The least expensive fares often apply to roundtrip tickets.

Purchase early. Try to make your reservations and ticket purchases at least 21 days prior to departure. This advance-purchase period varies. Some fares require an advance purchase of 3, 7, 14, or 21 days, while others may require no advance purchase at all.

Spend a Saturday night at your destination. Many of the lower fares require a Saturday night stay.

Consider alternative airports. If you live within driving distance of two or more airports, be sure to check fares for all. Some airlines offer special fares for flights into specific airports.

Don’t discard unused tickets. The majority of inexpensive fares are nonrefundable and nontransferable. However, if you don’t use your ticket, don’t throw it away. In some cases, you may apply the cost of an unused ticket (minus the airline penalty fee) toward the purchase of another ticket on the same airline. Your original ticket may have value for up to one year from the issue date.

Have your frequent flyer membership numbers on hand when you book. Depending on how many miles you have accrued, you may qualify for perks such as premium or upgraded seating. You’ll also want to be sure to get credit for the miles you fly.

Lodging

For weekend trips, consider business-oriented hotels. These hotels frequently offer weekend specials.

Listen to descriptions carefully. Some accommodations offer different options at similar prices. Details, such as breakfast included in the price, can make all the difference in the value you receive for your travel dollar.

Consider the season you’re traveling. Resorts typically offer the same rates throughout the week, but those rates may vary by season. Off-peak rates, available when fewer travelers are visiting a particular city or region, can represent substantial savings.

Rental Cars

Rent Friday to Monday. Rental car companies may offer weekend discounts.

Have your frequent renter and frequent flyer membership numbers on hand when you book. Rental car companies may offer express pickup service or flight mileage for their frequent renters.