Whether you have to travel for business or pleasure vacation, it can become costly. Flights, gasoline, hotels, meals, entertainment, souvenirs and more can add up quickly. In 2007, the average American vacation cost about $1,600.00. One can only imagine what it must be now, since prices are rising so much.

To minimize your expenditures, follow these five fabulous tips!

planning-to-travel1: Proper Planning Makes a Difference
The first and most important way to save money while traveling is to be prepared. Do your research before you pack and book your hotel at least a week in advance. This way, you can avoid having to travel from hotel to hotel looking for a vacancy, and also avoid paying more than you thought you would.

Keep in mind that hotel costs vary from area to area and if you do not do your research beforehand, you may blow your whole budget on hotel costs.

2. Go the Extra Mile
With all the new travel-oriented websites available, there are dozens of sites to help you find the best deals on hotels, flights & car rental. Scour every website you can think of. Leave no stone unturned! Furthermore, there are countless websites that are all about coupons and deals on restaurants, theatre, tours, museums, spa packages, etc. Be creative, confident and cut-throat.

counting-money3. Manage Your Money
It can be dangerous to walk around with a pocket full of cash (or credit cards) when visiting areas like gift shops, bars, and souvenir stores. To ensure you will be able to stay on your trip the whole time and not have to book a flight home early because you ran out of cash, make sure to limit yourself.

Keep your credit cards safely hidden in your hotel room and only withdraw a limited amount when you go out (if you are in another country, remember that each withdrawal will cost you big time, so find the best balance for you). A good limit will depend on your budget.

Also remember that when you travel, you will invariable pay more than you thought, lose some money, etc. Plan for a contingency fund. If you’re going to be gone a week, maybe $100. If you’re going to be gone a month, try $500. If you spend this, you already planned for it. If not, you have $500 extra when you return home!

4. Groceries Are Great
Unless you are visiting an area strictly for the exotic or romantic dining experiences, be sure to pack a cooler and stock up on cheaper foods at local grocery stores. Many hotels have microwaves in the lobby and some even offer cooking areas in your own room where you can prepare meals. A small, portable hotplate can be used as well, and is ideal for travel.

Ways to Save Money on Trips - Credit cards5. Looking Out For The Future
Again, it can be terribly tempting to reach for your credit card for purchases while on vacation. While credit cards are a great thing to have, limit their use to emergency situations. Because credit cards usually have such high interest rates, casual purchases can add up very quickly and contribute to lifelong debt (especially if you’re abroad).

6. Don’t Forget the Freebies
While away on business or a much needed vacation, remember that there are many free activities that are incredibly enriching. Don’t forget that sightseeing is usually totally free, and it can be an inspiring experience to immerse yourself in the culture of another area. Keeping these tips in mind while planning a trip will save you time and money, and will help you get the most out of your traveling experience.

Taylor Vonnegut the author of the “5 Ways to Save Money on Trips” likes to write about travelling abroad.

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