What are the best budget travel tips?

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Answered by: Sarah, An Expert in the Budget Travel Basics Category
Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. However, paying for it is another story. Utilizing several budget travel tips makes it easier to travel with limited funds. Deals are out there, but you must start your search as far in advance as possible. This allows plenty of time to plan ahead and take advantage of the best deals. Use these helpful tips when planning that perfect budget getaway.

1. Search for rental cars on comparative sites.

Some examples of comparative sites are RentalCars.com, CarRentals.com, Expedia and Priceline. One of the biggest advantages of using comparative sites is that you can see rates from several major companies. Some of the bigger sites also include rates from local providers. Another advantage is that you don't have to put any money down at the time of booking. This means you can make a booking, then come back the next week and cancel your prior booking if you find a better deal. Check back every week to see if you can find a better rate. In some cases, you can save hundreds on a rental car by doing this. Prices may fluctuate considerably from one week to the next.

2. Search the discount airlines.

Unless you have reward miles you plan on using, you could pay hundreds less by booking with a discount airline. These include companies such as JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin and AirTran. The flights fill up fast, and some airlines have limited cities they serve. If you plan on flying from and to a larger city, you may be in luck. Many comparative sites do not include rates from these airlines, so you will need to search them individually. A simple search online for your area's discount airlines may yield even more results. If discount airlines are not an option, watch for fare sales by checking comparative sites every week.

3. Purchase travel insurance.

Travel insurance may only seem like an extra expense, but it is actually a smart investment. Policies are much cheaper than most people assume. There are benefits such as flight cancellation, health emergency coverage, rental car coverage and much, much more. A travel policy with rental car insurance is actually much cheaper and more thorough than what most rental car companies offer. Travel insurance companies such as TravelGuard are known for affordable rates and generous rental vehicle liability insurance. If anything goes wrong on your trip and you have limited funds, you could find yourself stuck in a bad situation with no money. Travel insurance gives you the peace of mind to really enjoy your trip.

4. Book your accommodations directly.

If you book a hotel through a comparative or affiliate site, your reservation may not be amendable. Depending on the company you choose, you may have a hard time getting your money back if you have to cancel. Most hotels are good about matching prices you find online, so try calling a hotel directly to see if they will match a comparative site's discount rate. Check to see if the hotel has a rewards program, which could help you save even more by booking directly.

5. Look for food discounts in your destination city.

Check sites such as Living Social and Groupon for food deals in your destination city. Check to see if there are expiration dates for the deals. If you start looking in advance and are diligent, you can enjoy great dining and cut your food budget in half. You can also visit restaurant sites directly online. If you have a very limited food budget, research reviews and prices on sites such as Yelp, Urban Spoon and Google Reviews.

There are plenty of other ways to save money. From group tours and transportation to signing up for airline mailing lists, you can make your trip very inexpensive with some time and effort. The best part is that you will enjoy your trip even more knowing your memorable experiences are costing much less. Be sure to use these budget travel tips for your next getaway.

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