BBB Tips to Reduce the Sting of Vacation Expenses

It’s already the end of July, but many people are still getting ready to head out on a late summer vacation or even a long weekend getaway. Whether you’re planning to load up the car with family or fly to an exotic destination, your Better Business Bureau has some tips to help reduce the sting of vacation expenses.

These BBB tips range from helping to pare down the cost of transportation, lodging, entertainment and even meals when you’re out of town:

  • If possible, be flexible with your travel dates to obtain a better price.  In addition, if you are flying and aren’t in as big of a rush, flights with layovers are almost always less costly than non-stop flights and usually, so is booking a mid-week flight as opposed to ones that depart on weekends.

  • Start checking for daily coupons at your travel destination in the days and weeks leading up to your departure.  Try to find out where the locals eat and drink, and look for coupon discounts that can help you save money until you return home. Always remember to read a coupon’s fine print before attempting to use it though.

  • If you don’t mind a short drive, consider booking accommodations in a nearby town, instead of in the heart of your destination, especially if it’s a major tourist attraction.

  • You should also consider location when it comes to renting cars. Renting from an airport-based rental facility is often more expensive than an off-airport location. This is usually because of taxes and surcharges the airport charges rental companies. In addition, check your auto insurance policy before you leave home. Your existing policy may cover damage to a rental vehicle and you can possibly skip insurance through the rental contract. Take a picture of the car before you leave the rental facility and when you return it. Good pictures can protect you from unfounded charges for vehicle damage.

  • When it comes to food, Americans tend to save their largest meals for dinnertime, which is when menu prices jump.  It’s actually recommended to have your largest meal at lunch when you eat out, instead. Also, a growing number of hotels and eateries now offer family-friendly discounts that allow kids to eat for free or at a discounted rate with the purchase of adult entrees.  You can save even more by renting a room with a kitchenette and shopping at local grocery stores for certain meals.

  • Watch out for extra hotel fees. They are called “resort fees” and may be tacked on to your bill at checkout, even though you may have booked online.  Ask in advance if you can waive them if you don’t plan to use anything that they are for and see whether you will get charged for such services as a room safe or access to WiFi.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about discounts because some discounts may not be advertised. If you have a AAA card, are a member of the military or a senior citizen, don’t be shy about letting the hotel, car rental business or restaurant staff know.  It may pay off with discounts.

For additional BBB tips when traveling or tips to avoid scams targeting travelers, visit

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About Caitlin Driscoll

I have been the Public Relations Director of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA since November 2011.