Money-saving tips from travel experts Anne Banas, executive editor for SmarterTravel.com; John Novotny, vice president of operations at Travellers Inc.; Richard Smalley, marketing manager for the state Travel and Tourism division; and Jim Hanni, executive vice president for AAA Kansas.
If you fly
¢ The cheapest airfares will be midweek, especially Tuesdays and Thursdays. The quietest time is early Saturday and the busiest is Sunday afternoon.
¢ Avoid flying around 9 a.m. and early evening.
¢ Book the first flight of the day. "The first flight in the morning is a great time to save and it can knock off a couple hundred dollars from a trip, and it's worth losing a little bit of sleep over," Banas said.
¢ Avoid nonstop flights. They are the most desirable but most expensive.
If you drive
¢ Keep the car maintained. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gasoline mileage by up to 10 percent. You can improve your mileage by 3.3 percent by keeping tires properly inflated.
¢ While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.
¢ Aggressive driving wastes gas. It can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around towns.
¢ Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2 percent.
¢ Avoid excessive idling. It gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas than cars with smaller engines.
¢ Use overdrive gearing, so your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.
¢ Be sure to have your trip mapped out, so you aren't driving extra miles.
¢ Avoid traffic and driving at peak times of the day.
¢ Carpool if possible.
¢ Car rental rates are expected to climb higher with consumers paying an average of $45 per day, up 45 percent from a year ago. It's good to shop around before leaving. Neighborhood rentals will be more negotiable than those at airports.
¢ Use Amtrak. It charges half price for children ages 2 to 15. While it may take longer to get to the destination, prices are generally cheaper. It's Web site is www.Amtrak.com.
Where to stay
¢ Negotiate. Here's how: First, ask the hotel what its best rate is. Then, ask whether it offers an AARP or AAA discount or an association discount. Compare prices online to help negotiate. If the hotel won't budge on price, ask whether it would offer an upgrade to a better room. If you really want to stay in a particular hotel, find out what the hotel across the street is offering and then remind the first hotel that you can find lodging elsewhere.
¢ Many bed and breakfasts and hotels are offering gas rebates.
¢ Consider renting vacation homes, especially if traveling with children. They are listed on Web sites such as HomeAway.com.
¢ Find lodging a few blocks or miles from the beach. "Although you don't have an oceanfront view, it's a good compromise when you are wanting to save money," Banas said.
¢ If visiting a theme park, don't stay on the park's property.
¢ Get a hotel with a refrigerator to save on food.
Where to go
¢ Cancun, Mexico, is one of the best values when it comes to beach destinations.
¢ Canada is a good foreign option if you want to go to Europe but it's too expensive.
¢ Gas prices typically are cheaper in the southern parts of the United States. Popular destination states such as California, Hawaii, Alaska and New York typically have the highest fuel prices.
¢ Ski resorts can be a good option for families because it's not the peak season, yet they still offer outdoor activities such as water rafting.
¢ Stay in Kansas. There are several getaways featured at www.travelks.com.
¢ Be flexible. "If money seriously is an issue, the more flexible you are with where you decide to go and when, you are going to make out better," Banas said.