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As I said, we enjoy traveling a lot. What are some of the ways you folks that travel enjoy it inexpensively?
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I charge the kids college tuition and everything else on my platinum us air visa. Every year we get two free tickets to fly in the continental US.

We also get two round trip fares for $99.00 with the purchase of one ticket over $300.00.

I get some of my hotel reservations from hotel.com, but I do check around. I go off season. Hotels that sell for $200 a nite on season are less then $99.00 off season. And if the hotel is empty they will give you better rooms if you ask.


FoolKath
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zsimpson,

What are some of the ways you folks that travel enjoy it inexpensively?

I camp out whenever possible. For example, on my last trip to Florida, I tented in state parks almost the entire time (one night was spent in a private campground). Had a great time! I wonder if I really do this for budget reasons... I think if I were a multi-millionaire I'd still camp out!

Another thing I do is visit friends who live in foreign countries. Usually I can stay at their place, which cuts down on the expense. So I pick my travel itinerary based on where my friends are. I've made trips to Australia and France for this reason.

Finally, normally I eat out a lot when travelling. I enjoy dining out since I consider it part of the travel experience, sampling regional cuisine. But on my last trip with a friend, we cut back on this quite a lot, specifically for budget reasons. We went to the grocery store, and picked up some very cheap eats to cook back at our lodgings most nights. We ate out more for the cheaper breakfast and lunch meals, instead.

Rocannon
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Rocannon said,

For example, on my last trip to Florida, I tented in state parks almost the entire time (one night was spent in a private campground).

What time of year did you go to Florida? Did the campgrounds spray to keep the mosquito population down?
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DH and I like to travel comfortably - our idea of travel is not camping, sharing bathrooms with people we don't know (ie hostels), or taking exceptionally long layovers just to get a cheaper price. We also will not use Priceline for airline tickets - the chance of getting longer layovers, more than one stop and inconvenient flight times is more than we are willing to take for perhaps a $25-$50 savings.

We do travel a lot - the majority of our travel involves airlines - although some of it has involved amtrak or driving (to/from destination).

I thoroughly plan out our vacations and get initial estimates on costs so we can start saving. Then, I start shopping out airline prices in detail - using first www.orbitz.com and compare to www.expedia.com - then I use www.sidestep.com (you have to download the program) to do more comparisons. THEN, after I've found the best flights and prices, I go directly to the airlines website and save even more money (you don't have to pay the $6-$12 per ticket fee that discounters charge you). Sometimes, I've found better prices directly at the airlines websites.

Secondly, the vehicle is next (if you are renting a car). Use www.orbitz.com for general prices, then use your www.sidestep.com - then, go to www.hotwire.com and see if you can purchase your rental at an even better rate.

A suggestion, don't go with unknown rental companies - we did this on one trip and truly regret it. The inconvenience, bad customer service and terrible car we got was NOT worth the $30 we saved on the entire rental.

Recently, for our Christmas trip, I had a car reserved directly through a car rental company, at the best price I could find. I kept watching the sites as it got closer, including www.hotwire.com. Then, hotwire popped up with a price that saved us $30 over the entire rental - so I booked it (you have to pay upfront) and it ended up being the exact same car with the exact same company I had already reserved a car from - excellent!

Hotels... this one is tricky. Generally I'll browse through www.orbitz.com and www.hotels.com to get ideas on area hotels, their "ratings" by these companies, etc. Plus, these sites give me rate ideas. Then, I'll check hotwire to see if there are any comparable ratings with good rates - usually not - we did use hotwire to purchase a hotel room at the airport in CA the night before we flew out - it ended up being at a Crowne Plaza (which we like very much) and it was perfect.

Crowne Plaza is known for beating internet rates - so check their sites first - check their lowest available rate AND triple A or AARP rates.. they are usually really good.

We are staying in NYC right after the new year and there are some EXCELLENT rates available, both at Marriotts and InterContinental Hotels (Crowne Plaza, etc.).

It's a matter of continually checking - knowing what the best rates are and grabbing the good ones as you see them.

When we were in CA - we had reservations at a Howard Johnsons (2*) and we were willing to stay there for $65/night cause the best rates we could find in the area were $90+/night. For one night, I'd go better, for multiple nights, it adds up. Then, on a whim, I started checking Crowne Plaza and Marriott (4*) we found $70/night rates at the Crowne Plaza right on their website - we grabbed it - the $5 difference was well worth it. The going rate for that room (not rack, but average) was $130/night - rack was $180. When we saw the place we were going to stay, we were VERY glad we had purchased the Crowne's rooms.

Anyway - I spend a lot of time in the preliminary part of the trip - getting excellent rates for plane/hotel/cars.

Also, you can determine places you'll want to set and pick up gift certificates/gift cards ahead of time - for example, a friend of mine receives a % back towards her kids private school tuition on all the gift cards she sells - to places like Applebees, Chilis, Red Lobster, etc.. all national chains. You can check and be sure the chains are located near where you'll be and pre-purchase the cards.

For our Amtrak trips - Usually early spring (ie Jan/Feb) Amtrak has 50% off or buy 1 get 1 free - you can purchase as many tickets as you want and use them until they expire. We like to take the train into NYC - but we won't pay full price. So, last year, when they were on sale, we purchase 12 tickets (6 trips each) at 1/2 price - and had until the end of August to use them. There are some blackout days - like we couldn't use them on Saturdays, but that was ok for our plans. This year, if they go on sale again, we're going to pick up a couple for DC as well. Also, with Amtrak - you can easily change the traveler's name - so when my parents came to visit - we used 2 of our tickets for them - with no problems - they aren't like airline tickets.

Hope this helps.

C.
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mazske,

What time of year did you go to Florida?

I was there in January two years ago. I've also visited Florida in March/April a few years back. I never had a problem with mosquitoes there - in fact, I can't seem to recall noticing any at all! I don't know if that means they were spraying. I never saw any notification of spraying, and did not see any visible evidence of spraying... Why do you ask?

Rocannon
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What time of year did you go to Florida?


I like Florida in December, before the crowds arrive. For several years during the 90's my mother and I stayed each December (before Xmas) on Sanibel Island. We rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bath fully furnished condo for 2-3 weeks, right on the beach, with a view of the sunrise from our screened porch. The cost at that time was $700/week and I believe is now about $1000/week. We ate breakfast and dinner "at home" but had lunch (usually) at a restaurant. There are usually lots of coupons in the paper for buy one dinner/lunch and get one at half price or free. There was a lot to do that was quite inexpensive -- the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, the Corkscrew Swamp, just walking along the beach, watching the sunset. Florida always has good deals on car rentals and really good garage sales. Airline fares were good -- a senior ticket for my mom and a reduced price for me b/c I was accompanying her.

Sanibel might not be your "cup of tea" but having an apartment is a nice way to spend a few weeks and is probably possible in other parts of the country.
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I was there in January two years ago. I've also visited Florida in March/April a few years back. I never had a problem with mosquitoes there - in fact, I can't seem to recall noticing any at all! I don't know if that means they were spraying. I never saw any notification of spraying, and did not see any visible evidence of spraying... Why do you ask?

We got tent camping every year. I've been at places in various states where mosquitos can be pretty bad. I've been to Florida in the past and I can remember mosquitos being a problem at times.

If staying in a tent, if mosquitos are a problem, it can make for a bad time. I'm one of those people who can be next to another person and that other person will not get a single bite and I'll have 25 or so on me.

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We tend to avoid the major destinations when we travel. It tends to be cheaper and more interesting than the overpriced tourist traps. Examples:

- We like Puerto Rico. Last time we spent the week on the island of Vieques. Beautiful beaches all to ourselves, nice laid-back atmosphere, and $50 a night accomodations that included a balcony and a roof garden. This time we will be staying outside of El Yunque in an eco lodge and outside Ponce. Accomodations will be well under $100 a night.

- We went to Malta a couple of years ago. Instead of staying on the expensive, crowded main island, we went to Gozo. Much prettier, lots of historical/archaeological things to see and do, and we stayed in a 5 star hotel for $65 a night.
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<What are some of the ways you folks that travel enjoy it inexpensively? >

Travel off-season. For example, Europeans love to travel like crazy during the summer. Go to Europe in October (after the crowds, but when the weather is still nice).

Eat where the natives eat, not expensive touristy restaurants.

Take the trains. Europe has a fabulous rail system.

Wendy
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I have girlfriend from El Salvador that has resulted in a couple of inexpensive trips to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Later we went to Peru and the Yucatan another time.

She was revisting places she had been to as a child with her parents.
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