R is for 5 Road Trip Tips
Whether traveling alone or with a buddy, I do love myself a good road trip. Like most everyone else, I’m minding my budget and trying to travel smarter when hitting the highway for a weekend jaunt or week-long getaway. Following are a few budget-friendly road trip tips.
Membership Has Privileges
I’m a card-carrying member of the American Automobile Association (AAA) and it’s worth every penny. Not only do I have peace of mind during extended journeys but I receive discounts at hotels, select attractions and various services. A dollar here and there adds up quickly. Plus, I can get free maps and guidebooks before hitting the road to help plan my trip. Hey, sometimes I like to kick it old school and have learned you can’t rely on a GPS or iPhone to guide the way.
Say Hello to the Local Tourism Office
If you know where you’re going, visit the website of the destination’s convention and visitors bureau or chamber of commerce to see if any deals are being offered, such as vacation packages, a restaurant week or discounted admission into attractions. Once in the destination, drop by the visitor’s center to see if coupons or other deals are available. Or, look for maps at rest areas or hotel lobbies, many times they contain coupons.
Maximize Social Media Channels
Sync! In addition to AAA, I’m also an American Express card holder and right now, AMEX is offering various discounts to Twitter and FourSquare followers and Facebook fans. Today, I received $10 back when I spent $10 at Panera Bread because I had my Facebook and American Express accounts synched and had loaded the deal to my card. There are several hotel deals being offered right now along with a variety of shopping deals.
Check In! Speaking of utilizing social networks, be sure to check Facebook or FourSquare for check-in specials. When dining at Cap’n and the Cowboy Restaurant in Port Charlotte earlier this year, I earned a free cocktail just for checking in on Facebook. During my trip to New York this week, I saved on my hotel by booking my stay at the Roger Smith Hotel via their Facebook page.
Subscribe! Then there’s the power of flash sale sites such as Groupon or Living Social. Before visiting Alaska last summer, I subscribed to the Anchorage Groupon and learned about the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Without that Groupon notification, not sure if I would have planned that attraction into the road trip itinerary.
Redeem those Gift Cards
Not sure about you but I have too much “stuff” in my life. Looking around my apartment and packing for a move, I’m wondering how the heck have I accumulated so much “stuff”? My favorite gift to give and receive is a gift card, preferably for an experience, such as a restaurant, attraction, service or even gas. Yeah, not very exciting but practical. In addition to receiving gift cards, I earn them through such sites as MyPoints (reading emails, taking surveys) and Ebates (making purchases).
The grocery store chain Publix has been offering $10 off $50 gas gift cards with a minimum purchase of groceries lately and that’s a deal!
Be realistic about your budget and what you can see and do. I’ve probably been to New York about a dozen times yet I still haven’t seen a Broadway show. (I’ve seen Broadway shows in other major cities, just not New York.) Instead, I took advantage of some the free activities such as the Staten Island Ferry, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and people watching in Times Square. I’ve also sacrificed accommodation comforts to save on my budget, such as staying at hotels with bathrooms down the hall (or in another building) or even camping. I’d much rather spend my money on seeing something or doing something extremely cool than having the comforts of a luxury hotel.
Will you be planning a road trip this summer? If so, where?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links in which I may generate income to support my traveling habit.
This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!