As a record number of Americans leave home for the year-end holidays, we offer these six savings suggestions, a mix of tried-and-true tips and novel ideas.
A record 100 million+ people will be traveling for the year-end holidays, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The jump represents a 1.4% increase over the same period in 2014 and the seventh consecutive year of travel growth for the end of December/early January holidays. These travelers are estimated to spend $28.7 billion.
To save money when traveling during the holidays or at any other time, follow these tips.
• Drive when the distances are reasonable. More than 90% (91.3 million) of holiday-goers will drive to their destination, an increase of 1.4 % over the same period in 2014. Low gas prices, in part, fuel the growth in cars on the road. The national average for gas at $2.01 per gallon is 53 cents less than last year’s rates.
• Check out the food trucks. The food truck revolution can cut your lunch costs and enable you to savor some local flavor. In New York City, Minneapolis, Austin, Washington, DC, Boston and many other cities, food trucks in the downtown areas serve tasty and cheap eats that range from empanadas to lobster tacos, Thai noodles, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more. Apps such as Roaming Hunger Food Truck Finder can help you locate your meal on wheels.
• Graze the greenmarkets. Philadelphia, Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, and many other cities have year-round farmers’ markets. In winter, the vegetable and fruit pickings may be limited, but most of these indoor facilities sell sandwiches, salads, pasta, and pastries that you can eat at counters or tables. The atmosphere is lively, the food fresh and the prices are good.
• Choose a lodging that includes breakfast. Nobody likes to pay $4 for a glass of orange juice and wait around for a server when there’s much to see and do in the city. Save time and money by booking an accommodation that offers complimentary breakfast. Even if it’s just a so-so Continental spread of pastry and cereal, you can start the day without reaching into your pockets.
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• Make sure your hotel room has a refrigerator. Forget about paying triple for a bottle of water. Buy a six-pack of water and some healthy snacks from a store near your hotel and stock your room fridge instead of paying the hefty honor bar prices. Before you remove items from the room refrigerator, make sure it’s not one of those that automatically charges you if you move an item.
• Look for discounted entrance fees. Browse your destination’s website for deals and for information on bundled passes for attractions. CityPASS offers discounted admissions to multiple attractions in 12 cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston. Make sure that the museums and attractions are the ones you want to see and that you have time to visit most of them; otherwise, the pass may not save you much money. Before booking a hotel consider packages that may include admission to nearby attractions. Upon arrival, check with the concierge about discounted admissions. Also, check out the coupon companies—LivingSocial, Groupon and others—for deals on local restaurants and experiences.
What are your favorite ways to save money during holiday travels? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.