Pauline Frommer knows a thing or two about how to save money while traveling.
The editorial director of the Frommer Guides and publisher of Frommers.com stopped in Chicago recently and offered five tips on how travelers can save money this year:
1. Buy airline tickets early:
If traveling domestically, book airline tickets six weeks before you plan to travel.
Statistically, that's when prices are lowest.
2. Be aware of hidden fees at hotels:
Ask a lot of questions before you book. Beware of things like resort fees and mandatory (and expensive) valet parking.
3. Consider skipping hotels:
You can often rent apartments or entire houses for the price of a hotel room. A wave of companies have sprung up to serve this growing trend, including airbnb.com, vrbo.com and flipkey.com. Frommer recently tried it out herself, reading previous renters' online reviews, and then renting a room of a downtown Chicago condo for $43 per night.
4. Avoid booking shore excursions through the cruise company:
You can go on the exact same excursion, with fewer people and at a lower cost, by booking separately. CruisingExcursions.com is one place to look.
5. Look for free tours:
Lots of cities have good, free tours available. Walking tours of certain neighborhoods are usually led by locals, who earn money entirely off tips, so they make sure you're entertained (plus, you're expected to buy them lunch). Greeters programs, which also are growing in popularity, are another good, free way to meet a local who will show you around and teach you things about a city that you won't get on the tour bus.
-- Jamie Sotonoff