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Traveling can be painless on your heart, mind, and wallet!

Saving money on travel is a Savvy Financial Strategy for Life!

Who doesn’t like to travel? Once everything is booked, travel provides peace of mind for a while and gives you valuable time with a significant other or your family. I absolutely love traveling and taking my kids with me. Along the way I have learned some key things that can keep costs down.

One of the first things you need to do before automatically booking a hotel, flight, or cruise is research. You can find information on-line, in guide books and through agencies like AAA or others. Find out when the prime time is to travel to your destination. It is not the best idea to travel during key holidays or peak seasons. By traveling during the off seasons you can often cut costs by half or more. Traveling in the off seasons will also make your vacation calmer because you will not have to deal with the masses on the road, at the airport or in your travel destination. Bliss is important!  You vacation to relax!

Once you have done your research, picked the location and time to go, decide how you are going to book your trip. Here are a few ways to do this.

1)    Look at travel sites on-line. For instance, Kayak.com, Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, Priceline.com and CheapTickets.com are companies you can use to get inexpensive air tickets and hotel stays. AMEX Travel allows use of their points. For cruises, iCruise.com or Vacationstogo.com offer many packages and often huge savings off the list price.

2)    Not a seasoned traveler? Use a travel agent. They are paid by the companies your trip is booked with. They get great deals that most individuals cannot and facilitate the booking of you trip. This can give you peace of mind; you don’t have to worry about hotel or flight mess-ups. Travel Agents also have good relationships with the hotels, air companies, and cruise companies. These relationships are good for you, too!

3)    If you have memberships with a company like AAA, you can often get discounts on travel through them. Own a time share? Check their offers. Resorts often discount points 60-90 days out, thus making your points stretch farther.

Travel Map

If you do not want to fly, another great alternative is going by car. Road trips are great because you can see a lot of Americana along the way. You may recall me writing about my Western Road Trip last summer. It was a once in a life time experience.

Once your trip is booked find out what is going on, while you are on vacation, where you are traveling. Sometimes the local area will have events that are open to the public at a low price. This provides you with a day filled with activities for a low-cost. If you book activities compare prices. Search the internet for city magazines and coupons. There are many excellent travel apps for your phone. The national park guides, Trip Advisor, and city guides provide walking tours, restaurants, and sightseeing suggestions. Check costs through the hotel concierge, cruise line, or local companies. It is sometimes cheaper to book through the hotel or cruise line than the local companies.

When it comes to eating, have a daily food budget! If you go on a cruise you can choose free style dining and the buffets, these are free except for a small tax you pay at the end of the cruise that covers tips. When staying somewhere, ask the hotel concierge for their recommendations and sometimes they have coupons you can use. Urban Spoon is a good app to check.

Another great way to have a vacation is to have a “staycation”.

Yes that sounds funny, but there are always fun and entertaining things going on during the summer in your area. The Friday or Saturday paper has a section that covers what is happening in the week ahead in your area or in surrounding areas. Many festivals that provide food, entertainment, and activities for a low cost are in our own backyards. Check your state tourism website.

Day trips are also great. You get to see what great things your state has to offer and experience it at your own pace. You do a lot without spending a lot.

No matter how you travel it is important to do your research. Whether that is looking at the newspaper or getting online and looking at the travel sites. Ask you friends. Ask me! Make sure you know everything you can so you don’t pay an unnecessary price for fun.

Most of all, have fun! Memories are so important for everyone!

About Sara Seasholtz

Sara Seasholtz, CFP®, was voted one of "50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte" by The Mecklenburg Times in 2011, and she's been a trusted financial advisor to her clients for over 30 years. Have a financial question?ASK SARA!

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