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Originally published November 26, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Page modified November 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Travel Wise

How to save on vacations

No one wants to spend more than they have to on a vacation. Whether it's taking a trip to Grandma's for the holidays or planning a larger...

quotes There are so many more organizations thanth just AAA and AARP that offer car rental... Read more

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No one wants to spend more than they have to on a vacation.

Whether it's taking a trip to Grandma's for the holidays or planning a larger vacation, it's easy to make money-burning mistakes. Here are some tips on how to save:

Fly on cheap days

Flexibility is the single most important money-saving factor when planning a vacation. Wednesdays are often the cheapest days to fly. If you can't go midweek, try flying on Saturday — another traditionally cheap day to fly. Avoid Fridays and Sundays, which are the most expensive.

Even if you're not flying, flexibility with travel dates is the best way to avoid paying big bucks on hotel rooms and car rentals. Check multiple websites with several different combinations of dates to ensure you're getting the best deal.

And going in the offseason is always the best way to get deals on flights and hotels.

Check on packages

When organizing a trip, most people lock in a flight and then decide on everything else. Before you buy a plane ticket, check the prices on vacation packages that combine flight, hotel and perhaps a rental car.

Companies often offer better prices in package deals because they generate a lot of interest and the airline, hotel and car-rental companies don't have to show what they're charging for each individual piece. Check airline websites and online travel companies for packages; travel agencies also can offer advice

Look for discounts, promotions

Hotels and car-rental companies frequently offer discounts to members of AAA and AARP, and to government workers. They also offer special rates to employees of certain companies. Always ask.

Signing up for loyalty programs can pay off. Some hotel chains offer a free night's stay for as few as two or three spent at one of its properties. A weeklong road trip could easily earn a couple of free nights to bank for your next vacation.

Get frequent-flier miles

Sign up for frequent-flier miles, particularly on carriers such as Alaska Airlines with more lenient expiration policies. Even young children can get mileage accounts (airlines policies vary on age) and miles can add up over the years.

Once you rack up frequent-flier miles, use them wisely. George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com recommends only redeeming miles for flights that cost more than $300.

Look for hotel extras

Try to stay at hotels that offer free breakfast, free parking or free Wi-Fi. The savings can add up since breakfast can easily cost $10 per person. Internet access may be another $10 a day. Parking at city hotels can run from $25 to $50 per night.

Pack light

Travel with carry-on luggage only on flights, or at least avoid overweight bags. Most airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and about $100 if the bag is over 50 pounds.

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