10 Frugal Travel Tips

Deep Fried Cheese Curds
 
We just got back from our annual travel odessey Up North to visit our families and friends. We drove our rental car over 800 miles in ten days and maximized the trip. Between the family get togethers, concerts, State Fair, racing events and time with grandchildren and friends, it was a whirlwind tour. Of course we tried to do it in the most frugal way possible, so here a few tips I would like to share from our travel experience.

1. In the airport and airplane - we packed some granola bars, beef jerky, Diamond almonds and some candy for snacking on the plane and throughout the trip. We also brought along some Starbucks gift cards so we could enjoy a free coffee drink at the airport. Our home airport has free wi-fi so we could have internet while we waited for our plane.

2. Wi-fi - rather than be without Internet on our trip, I opted to pay Sprint a $1 a day to make my smartphone a wifi hotspot for the ten days of our trip. Our relatives who hosted us don't have internet so it was necessary. I also switched domain name registrars this month from Blogger to Godaddy and the switch happened to occur during our trip so I had to have internet to change nameservers. My site was down for a couple days, but I'm glad to say Google doesn't have control over my domain anymore.

3. Pack your favorite foods from your stockpile - Whenever we visit family we have to do our grocery shopping in different stores with different coupon policies. To avoid the frustration of having to pay full price for coffee or peanut butter, we pack it from our stockpile at home. I like to pack a few of the higher priced items that we know we want like coffee, peanut butter, beef jerky, and unique recipe ingredients.

4. Bring hostess gifts from your stockpile - I like to provide personal care items like razors, cleansing wipes, and cosmetics; gift cards, chocolates and candy as hostess gifts for our hosts where we stay. It's always nice to leave a thank you card too with some cash to show your appreciation.

5. Research your rental car discounts - Since we are state employees we can use the Avis rental car state code and get a great deal on rental cars. We paid $19 a day for a new 2014 Toyota Camry, plus taxes. If you don't have a corporate code from your employer, you can find these codes on Slickdeals.net by searching the forums for "rental car discounts".

6. Rent the cheapest car  - This has never failed us. We rent the subcompact car and when we get to the rental car counter, undoubtedly there are no subcompact cars available so they upgrade the car at no additional charge. Or if they give you a crappy car like a Kia, just say you can't safely see over the hood and want a different car. This works consistently at smaller airports like the ones Southwest Air flys to.

7. Pack Smart - This means pack light. If you can fit your clothes into a carry on bag, you can avoid airline baggage fees. Or you could just fly Southwest where up to 2 bags fly free. But it still makes sense to pack less and just do laundry once on your vacation. Bring your own detergent too. Plan your wardrobe colors to match so each item can be worn more than once. Borrow heavy sweaters and cold weather jackets from your host if the weather turns cold a couple times.

8. Use Local Coupons - Ask your friends and family to buy advance tickets to events if they are significantly cheaper, like the State Fair. Tell them to watch out for coupons for amusement parks and other activities you might be doing with them. Check the internet to find out the deals before hand and if you direct your friends to the deals they might even join you.

9. Bring or Borrow a Cooler - We always pack a small cooler for our trips Up North. It's nice to have water and soda available in your travels, plus if you have food that needs to refrigerated like party dip, beer or restaurant leftovers you can safely carry it around between events.  Use your hosts icemaker ice if you can, but don't be too cheap to buy a bag of ice if you need it. Stay hydrated.

10. Keep Couponing - Ask your hosts for their coupon inserts if you know they don't use them. If you're in a hotel on a Sunday morning, go through the free newspapers in the lobby to get inserts, or if you're stopping at Starbucks theres probably a newspaper there too with inserts.

It's important to remember that you are on vacation, and to take that splurge if you really want. These trips are to make memories and you don't want to have regrets that you were too frugal to spend some money for a wonderful experience.

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