Don’t let vacation trip up your finances

Time is money when you are on vacation.

As a travel resource, AAA knows that with a little research and planning, most travelers can start and end their vacations knowing they’ve made their dollars count.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when traveling and spend more than you realize,” said Amy Moreno, senior travel manager for AAA Arizona. “During a weeklong trip or longer, those little purchases you made without thinking can add up.”

Don’t be locked in on the day of the week you travel, and choose shoulder or offseason to save money.

As a full-service travel agency, AAA Travel experts offer up 10 tips that will help save money and time while flying, cruising, renting a car or getting into a popular museum:

o Pack light: Know airline luggage and weight limits before you go to the airport and ensure you are underweight. In addition, some local or regional carriers only allow a purse or backpack on the plane and will require you to check and pay for carry-ons with wheels.

o BYOB: Paying for bottled water at airports can cost $4 to $6. Take an empty water bottle with you and fill up at drinking fountains.

o Pre-pay: When cruising, look at the pre-paid options and promos. Often you will save a lot of money if you prepay for drink packages, gratuities and other things.

o Be prepared: Travel with a small emergency bag with aspirin or Ibuprofen, antacids, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium and Band-Aids. If you need these things, the prices when traveling are often highly inflated — that is, if you can find them.

o Get organized: Ensure you renew your passport in a timely manner. If you wait and have to expedite it, expect to pay at least $60 more.

o Money matters: Know the fees for using an ATM, getting a cash advance and foreign transaction fees. Search and apply for a new credit card with lower or no fees if necessary. Also, buy some foreign currency from a local bank before you go.

o Insurance policy: Know what your personal car insurance and credit cards cover when renting a car to avoid buying expensive coverages from the rental car company.

o Fuel up: Fill up your rental car with gas before you return it. Avoid buying rental companies’ gas packages, as they are rarely a good deal for the consumer.

o Chow down: Book hotels that include a free breakfast. Be sure to see what kind of breakfast they offer (ie cooked to order, continental, etc.).

o Order ahead: Book/pay for entrance fees in advance to prime tourist spots, such as the Vatican and Eifel Tower, to avoid waiting hours in lines when you get there. Skip the line and walk right in.

“The more you plan ahead, the more likely you will save money when traveling and have greater peace of mind,” Moreno said.

AAA is the largest leisure travel agency in North America. Go to

o Valerie Vinyard is a public affairs specialist with AAA Arizona. Contact her at or at 520-258-0518.

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