Better Vacation Planning

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

The time is near to start planning this year's summer vacation. There are some great ways to save on trips such as airfare and pre-season hotel rates, yet there are some things that are worth the extra expense. Try to save money where you can, but don't cross these options off your expense list.

Laundry Services

No one wants to spend his/her vacation doing laundry, and no one has to. Most hotels, resorts, and even cruise ships offer laundry services. While this seems like an extra expense, it's worth its cost. (One Fodor's travel writer who travels with twin toddlers offers this option as her best travel tip.) The average cost is $20 for a large laundry bag full of dirty clothes to be washed, dried, folded, ironed, and returned to the room the next day. Here's what it saves:

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  • less luggage needed (pack less clothes)
  • less cost for extra luggage at the airport
  • washers/dryers at the hotel can cost upwards from $2.50 a load
  • save time washing your own clothes
  • return home with less clothes to wash since you packed less to begin

Mass Transit

If you can avoid the hassle of renting a car, by all means avoid it. Car rentals are expensive and worrisome. Instead, opt for mass transit when possible. If you're staying at a resort or hotel near the attractions, pick up a bus schedule or purchase a bus/subway pass. Even cab fare isn't expensive in comparison to a car rental if you only hire a few rides during your stay. Likewise, purchase transfer tickets to/from the hotel to the airport; it's much easier to deal with once you've landed.

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All-Inclusive

Remove the preconceived notion that all-inclusive resorts, cruises, and travel packages are for the rich and famous. They're quite the opposite. The initial price tag may be daunting, but consider that everything is paid for. Forget searching for a place to eat or always feeling hungry because you have to go out for food. Some all-inclusives offer free children's stays but aren't as all-inclusive as other resorts. Weigh your best option. Often third and fourth people in the room, typically your children, are much cheaper than the first two. If one resort offers free children but some meals, drinks, or services are not included in the tab, check other resorts that include these services but charge for children. Often you'll save more than the cost of your child's stay.

Use Your Hotel

When booking hotels, see what services they offer. Like the all-inclusive, you'll save time and transportation expenses if your hotel offers more. Is there a restaurant on site? Eat there for your main meals. Does it offer a shuttle service? Are there discounted tickets available to local sights? Is there something to do at night? When you want to relax but your children want to go out, the hotel can save a lot of hassle by offering a pool or game room.

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All of these extra amenities might mean a slightly more expensive hotel or a few extra charges on your bill, but they're worth the money.

Better Vacation Planning

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