Take A Vacation
And See Your Area
By Going On A
Thrifty Road Trip

THE ROAD TRIP - The thrifty road trip was once the least expensive way to travel around a country. With the current gas prices it may not continue to be the best alternative. However, for now, this is still a good option.

Look around your area, within 300 to 400 miles. If there is an attraction you haven't been to or haven't taken the family to, plan that for your next trip.

Plan your cheap road trip - calculate the cost of the fuel, call hotels along the route and get some quotes and start booking your rooms. Be sure to ask if they are having any specials. Many hotels won't tell you about current specials unless you ask. Read the article below to learn more about saving money on hotels.

Look for any thrifty tours or attractions along your route. Add the fees into your frugal travel plans.

Figure out a budget for food. Plan to get some of your meals at grocery stores - eating sandwiches or prepackaged salads and such will save a lot over eating out.

Tip on Hotels for your thrifty road trip (From 9News.com, posted by: Colleen Locke, Producer, reported by: Mark Koebrich, Consumer Reporter, Sunday Feb 17, 2008) Consumer Reports recently reported -

Hotels in all prices ranges are playing the rewards game in order to generate repeat business.

All the plans Consumer Reports checked out were free, and they made it really easy to enroll. You could do it by phone, online or even in person at the hotel. You can collect points through hotel stays or from everyday spending, typically at a rate of 3 to 10 points for every $1 you spend.

Points for a free night vary. Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn a free night with as few as 5,000 points. Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards start at 7,500 points. The Best Western Gold Crown Club starts at 8,000 points.

Many programs also allow you to convert points into airline miles, restaurant certificates, even retail merchandise. Other perks? Members are often told first about special deals and members-only discounts. There are other special benefits, such as free newspapers and health-club privileges. With the Fairmont Hotel Chain's "President's Club," you even have free use of workout clothes, sneakers, and a loaded MP3 player.

But there are caveats. Many of those programs will not give you points if you book through a third party such as Travelocity or Expedia, and they often have blackout dates, so you may not be able to book using your points during the holiday season. However, with a little planning, getting a free night or two can lead to sweet dreams, indeed.

How do you decide which hotel loyalty program to join? If you have a favorite hotel chain, go with that one. But if you stay at different hotels - depending on your destination or how much a room costs - Consumer Reports says read up on the different programs to find one that best suits you and your travel itinerary.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.

(Copyright © 2004-2008 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.)

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