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Everyone wants to go on a nice vacation, but no one wants to spend a fortune on the trip. Luckily the Internet has made it a lot easier for Mr. and Mrs. Pennypincher to get the biggest bang for the least amount of bucks.
By researching your trip meticulously before you leave, you can find great bargains on airfare, hotels, car rentals and area attractions. Just call it a four-star vacation with a one-star price tag.
Go to the Discount Sites First
Discount and price-comparison sites like Priceline, Hotwire and Travelocity sometimes have the best prices. Even if they seem too high, they can help give you a better picture of what you're dealing with. If a hotel room is being offered for $100 on one of those sites, a good goal would be to find it for 20 percent less on another site or by contacting the hotel directly.
Check the Rewards Programs
Most people know that AAA members often get discounts on hotels, but did you know that military service members do, too? Or that your employer may have an arrangement with a certain hotel or car rental chain that results in employee discounts? Or, if you stay multiple times at the same hotel, you can earn a free night?
Check out the rewards policies of hotels you’re considering online to determine which one gets you the biggest discounts.
Sign up for Daily Deal Sites
Groupon, Living Social, local newspapers and more are great ways to find deep discounts on area restaurants and attractions through their daily deals. Plan your city trips months in advance by monitoring the local deal sites. If, say, you have a fall trip planned to St. Louis, you could score half-price meals, golf games or museum admissions on these sites. Just be sure to double-check the expiration dates.
Book during the Offseason
Do your online research first. If you're planning a trip to Hawaii, for example, visit the Oahu Visitor Information website to determine when the offseason is. By booking your trip during a slow time, you'll not only get better prices, but you'll be eligible for free upgrades that aren't available during the thick of the tourist season.
Wait until the Last Second
It's a risky strategy for sure, but waiting until the last possible moment to book can earn you discounts of up to 50 percent off. Hotels and airlines are eager to pack in every guest they can, and so they're often willing to take a loss on the last few bookings.
Make sure you check online ahead of time to determine whether there are still a lot of openings, though; otherwise you could end up without a place to stay or a plane to catch.
Using these tips, you're sure to get a vacation fit for a king, at a pauper's price.