By Chris Dato • April 17, 2015
Here in Southern California, we are familiar with the phrase “It’s a small world.” While this may be true in some senses, the amount it costs to see this small world can seem down right…well, big. However, you should not let this perception stand in the way of your grand plans to get away this summer. There are ways to save big on every aspect of your travels, and utilizing these tips can make your dream summer vacation be more within your budget than you realized. We are going to explore creative saving solutions for a few of these components of travel, starting with how to get around a foreign city. Whether you decide to rent a car or make use of local forms of transportation, it is key to understand the perks and potential saving opportunities associated with either option.
When it comes to the problem of getting around in unfamiliar terrain, a rental car is the first option that comes to mind. Often times renting a vehicle is the only feasible option, especially if your trip is going to be on a tight schedule. If you have an itinerary that is jam packed with appointments or activities, then the convenience of a rental car is your best option. If this is the case, there are a few tips you can keep in mind to ensure that you score the best deal on your wheels.
As always, the first trick to getting a great deal is to book your reservation early. This move has a plethora of benefits for you as the customer. Not only does this guarantee availability, but it will also give you the most rental options, and allow you to find the best rate. This is especially helpful if you have requirements for the type of vehicle you need, such as a minimum number of seats if you are traveling with your family.
However, if you have some flexibility with your automobile options, it often pays to be cheap frugal. I recommend booking the most inexpensive model available for your trip, which will usually be a small economy sedan. Since these vehicles are often the first to get booked, the company usually runs out of them first. If they do not have the model car you reserved, the rental company is required to give you an upgrade at no additional fee. Again, showing up early in the day will increase your chances of getting a free upgrade, as the economy cars are less likely to have already been returned. And always remember to look for a rental car promo code before you depart on your trip!
Most of the ways to save in regards to a rental car come down to common sense. Practicing driving habits that are good for fuel economy, such as keeping your speed below 65 or using the windows instead of the air conditioning, is an easy way to save a few dollars. In addition, you can use apps like GasBuddy to find the best local price for a fill-up. Similarly, don’t fall for any of the unnecessary charges the company may try to impose. Be sure to return the car with the same amount of gas it had when you got it and don’t bother with the optional insurance. Surprise: The insurance you already pay for every year has got you covered!
The last thing to remember on the topic of renting a car is that location matters. Although each branch of a rental car company will have roughly the same selection of cars, where you rent your car from can have an impact on the rate you get. Because of associated fees, airport rental car locations tend to have higher rates than their offsite counterparts. By spending a little bit of money up front on a taxi from the airport, you can get a much better daily rate and save big in the long run.
If you are feeling a little adventurous, I recommend ditching the idea of a rental car all together. Although it can offer you slightly less control than your own vehicle, many destinations have well established and relied upon modes of public transportation. For travelers like myself who value the journey just as much as the final destination, these alternate means of transportation can be a very attractive option.
Especially if you plan on making use of public transportation in a foreign city, even basic knowledge of the local language will really come in handy. This can be as simple as investing a phrase book, which will provide you with translations for the most common and useful phrases. However, if it is an option, I recommend a language learning software. Whether your destination requires you to completely learn a language or just brush up, the best language learning software is Rosetta Stone. You can find a great deal on Rosetta Stone online, using this Rosetta Stone promo codes from PromoCodes.com.
What local modes of transit lack in freedom, they more than make up for in experience. In many cities around the world, the public transportation is a fixture of daily life for locals. A great example of this is the bullet trains used throughout Europe. Not only do these trains provide efficient and speedy (200 miles per hour to be exact!) transport to many landmarks and tourist hot spots, but the experience of the train itself is also a story to tell when you get home. Likewise, the trolley cars in San Francisco are an iconic image for the city and provide an exceptionally convenient means by which to navigate the hilly local landscape.
In the next entry we are going to look at some of the most appealing destinations for your getaway this summer. Until then, consider that vacationing is all about enjoying the ride. Whatever your chosen method of transportation, make sure you get a seat by the window.
Chris Dato A Southern California kid born and raised, Chris is happiest with sunglasses on his face and sand under his back. Although a self-proclaimed master money saver, he prefers the term 'responsibly frugal' to 'cheap.'