Smart tips for saving money during travel


Published: Friday, January 12, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 11:25 p.m.

NEW YORK — Planning on traveling in 2007? If you want to save money, plan ahead. Here's how to save on travel expenses this year:

If you're flying to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean this year, you better have a passport. Starting Jan. 23, you'll need it to get back into the U.S. It can take up to six weeks to get a passport, which costs $97 for adults and $82 for children under 16. For details, visit travel.state.gov/passport or www.getapassportnow.com. Crossing the border by land or sea? A birth certificate and photo ID will do for now — the passport law won't take effect for those modes of transportation until 2008.

To save on airfares, go beyond the usual suspects. Web sites like Expedia.com and Orbitz.com don't always include smaller airlines such as Jet Blue and Spirit in their search engines. These smaller carriers may offer cheaper deals, especially at the last minute. Try searching www.kayak.com, www.sidestep.com and www.mobissimo.com. These sites scan fares offered by various discount airlines and consolidators in addition to mainstream carriers.

Fly into a smaller airport. If you're headed to Boston, consider the Providence, R.I., airport or the Manchester, N.H., airport. Both are less than 55 miles from Boston and may land you significantly reduced fares. This strategy may be particularly useful if you're flying with a family or group of people — you could save several hundred dollars per person on airfare and use the savings from just one person to drive to your final destination.

If you're renting a car, reserve a compact or low-end model when making your bookings, says Pauline Frommer of the Frommer's travel guides. It will be cheaper for you to upgrade in person than it would to book a higher-end model ahead of time. Check with your car insurance and credit card companies before you travel — both often cover rental car insurance. That way, you can forego the insurance rental car companies are likely to offer.

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