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Transportation is often the largest part of the cost of a trip – especially if you are flying. What can you do to try to stretch your travel budget?
First, your flights will probably cost you less if you travel off season. You’ll also save money on hotels and find fewer crowds too. Shoulder seasons – the time between high and low seasons – are best. “Off” season may be too rainy or cold for you to enjoy your holiday. You want to save money while not being miserable.
If you’re going to visit several cities consider flying with an “open jaw” ticket. It may cost a little more for the ticket itself, but you might save in time- and ground-transportation costs. If you’re renting a car, drop off charges might cancel any savings, so it could be better to get back to the same airport. Do your research to see which way you will save.
Once you’re at your destination, stretch your travel budget by using public transportation to and from the airport. Taxis are usually expensive. But if there are four of you sharing the taxi and cost, it might be worth it.
Share rental car expenses. Rental cars can be a great way to get out to the countryside, but they add a daily expense to your budget. Cut that down by travelling with others. If four of you are travelling together, a car may be less than the price of four train tickets.
Try to avoid the collision damage waver (CDW) charges on rental cars. Generally if you have a “gold” credit card, the credit card company will cover this insurance. Check with your card company though, because certain countries are not included in this coverage. In those countries, the CDW will be mandatory and should be included in the price you are quoted.
You don’t want to have your rental car in big cities. Those big cities are a headache to drive in. To keep your rental car safe, you need to park in a garage, and parking fees are expensive. Do your city touring first. To save the headaches and stretch your travel budget, take trains or buses between cities, then pick up your rental car for your drive in the countryside.
If you’re going to stay only in cities, use the train and local transportation, especially in Europe where the transit system actually works. When you’re taking the train, go second-class. The seats aren’t quite as cushy, but they are comfortable enough for your trip, and you’ll save a bunch.
When you’re using the local subways and buses, figure out in advance how many trips you’ll be taking: It might be worthwhile buying a transit card or at least a booklet of tickets at a discount. If you’re only going to be making one trip, just buy one ticket. No need to pay for transportation you won’t use.
Walk around the city on your own, using a good map, rather than taking a bus tour. Organized walking tours can be a fun and inexpensive way to go. If you want to arrange a tour, you might do better arranging it through the tourist office rather than your hotel.
You can stretch your travel budget if you are smart about how and when you travel to your destination. Take the less expensive options to get around once you’re there. You’ll be travelling frugally, but having just as much fun.
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