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In peak season, rooms at Casa de Campo in the Dominic Republic start at about $650 (U.S.). Off season? You can book a room for $219 and get your food and drink, tennis, horseback riding and skeet-shooting thrown in for good measure.
In peak season, rooms at Casa de Campo in the Dominic Republic start at about $650 (U.S.). Off season? You can book a room for $219 and get your food and drink, tennis, horseback riding and skeet-shooting thrown in for good measure.

Our readers' 38 best money-saving vacation tips Add to ...

Last week we shared cheap-travel expert Domini Clark’s top 10 ways people waste their travel dollars, and invited readers to respond. We were inundated. Here are the best tips, tricks and pieces of advice sent in by our readers.

WHERE TO SLEEP

Look for alternative types of accommodations. On my last trip to Amsterdam, we rented a houseboat for less than the average hotel room. We were right on the Amstel River in the heart of the city; got to be part of a “local” neighbourhood rather than a tourist area. Cheri Elferis

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If you're travelling as a family, apartment-style hotels or vacation rentals can help you save money. Often these apartments come with a kitchenette. I convinced my husband to go to an apartment hotel in Washington, D.C. It was wonderful: located in a quiet, centrally located neighbourhood near the subway and walking distance to many sites and restaurants. The best part about these places is that they are located in regular neighbourhoods and not in tourist zones. Sarah Bandey

Going to Hawaii? Costa Rica? Almost anywhere? There are invariably people who have bought investment properties and are desperate to rent them out. In Hawaii, a nice three-bedroom condo/house just minutes to the beach can be had for $150 to $200 a night. These places are usually fully equipped (boogie boards, coolers, towels, etc.) and eat-in breakfasts/lunch preparation becomes much simpler Michael Bentley

Booking “with your feet” can save you a ton of cash and get you some amazing places. If you are on a long trip, book a hotel for a few days and walk your favourite neighbourhoods to find that guest house. Whack-a-Troll

Stay in a family-run two-star place. Often the service is great and warm, the owners are more helpful and the rooms are neat and clean but not fancy. How much time do you want to spend in your room? dog's breakfast

MEALS AND MUNCHIES

Pack baggies or other resealable bags, and buy nuts and other healthy snacks that you can throw in your bag every day for the midmorning munchies. Or if the hotel offers a breakfast buffet, grab a banana or other piece of fruit for later in the day. Bag clips are handy to if you buy snacks that will last a few days, or if you taking a train or bus trip and need something to munch on. Margaret Buttner

Airport prices are still exorbitant, eating before heading to the airport, or on the way to the airport can save a bundle. – John S Lee

I would suggest eating your main meal “out” at lunchtime, when prices are much less at most restaurants, and have a picnic in your room (wine, cheese, etc.) at night. Dorothy2707

Find hotels that have free continental breakfasts, which in Europe is usually included in the price of the room. Go nuts on it. Pig out. officematt

For breakfast, most rooms have a coffee maker – therefore, a source of hot water. We bring our own Starbucks instant coffee and use Irish cream liquor as our creamer. We also bring packets of instant oatmeal. Carefully tear off the top of the package of instant oatmeal and place the whole package in a coffee mug. The packages are waterproof, so pour in the hot water, stir, and eat the oatmeal out of the package. When done, put the package in the garbage and the coffee mug is still clean – no dishes! J56

SCORING A DEAL

Typically renting a car at an airport is significantly more expensive. Many rental car companies have off-airport locations that offer a much cheaper option. Better still, some of these locations are often in the hotel lobbies of airport hotels that offer a free shuttle to/from the airport. A quick Google map search can locate these off-airport rental car locations. If there are no airport hotels with rental car offices in their lobbies, then take public transit to the nearest one. Adam Frost

Before I go anywhere on holiday I go to a local newspaper site and see if they've got Daily Deals e-mails you can sign up for. We just spent three weeks at Christmas travelling the coast from Vancouver to Newport Beach California and enjoyed discount dinners, facials and tours every stop along the way! Tracy Nice

Train rides in Europe can be as much as half off if booked in advance. I paid €52 for the London-Paris train by booking three months in advance, I saw prices around €100 if purchased the same day. It's true you have to make that exact train but it worked out great for us. And if you're on a special vacation like a honeymoon or an anniversary – tell everyone! You'll get upgrades, extras, smiles and better service. Jeff Roberts

Look for coupon codes. I'm saving 25% on renting a car this summer because I did a search on Google for “Europe car coupon codes.” TVworker

Sign up for group coupon e-mails for your destination. I signed up for Groupon e-mails about two months before our trip to L.A. We got a lot of ideas about places to go and got Groupons for: the Grammy museum, the Santa Monica Pier (midway), a great deli in Santa Monica and a thrift store in Santa Monica. NorthVanDMo

Always look for CAA/AAA specials. Check their website for deals on hotels, rental cars, tickets for attractions even shopping discounts. In many cases, it's “ask and you shall receive.” Also, CAA offers benefits on car rentals such as free child safety seats and a free second driver. mva1

WHERE TO GO

Research your event tickets and read the fine print. A three-day pass in Paris for all of the museums seems like a deal at around 75 euros, but if you spend the whole day at the Louvre, it's cheaper to buy a single entrance ticket for about 12 euros than to use up 25 euros worth of your pass. Jeff Roberts

One more way to waste money: Only travel to the most modern, trendy places. There are still some places you can travel to that are very inexpensive as long as you are not at the most touristy locations: Vietnam, China (outside the megacities) and Cambodia to name a few fascinating Asian examples. We went to a little-known island beachside resort in Vietnam, stayed at a simple but nice place for $25 a night. Noviwan

Try travelling to a desired location off season ... example, Paris in the winter, amazing, beautiful still, no crowds at any of the sights, great restaurants are attainable and on top of all that, you get better airfares and better rates on hotels. Nicky125

The same is true in reverse for tropical destinations. Some of them may be risky due to weather risks, and the summer will be hot, but crowds will be small, prices will be lower, and if you have access to a beach and some shade, it can still be great. We've even done Disney in August and had a great time, every ride except one had lines of less than 10 minutes. Some, no lines at all. SS Ontario

SIGHTSEEING

Arrange private tours at ports of call instead of taking the ship's tours. You will usually get the tours at half the cost and also avoid the crush of people from the tour buses. In some places this may not work, but most places it will. Keith Clark

If you search online for free walking tours and the city you're in, there's bound to be one of those organizations. You get a bit of a personalized lesson, get good exercise, and hear about things from a local perspective. Of course, a tip is appreciated, but the experience is well worth it since it's done by students. The Silver Shadow

MORE TRAVEL TIPS

Use your credit and debit card for emergencies, or at least limit your use of plastic. Some countries add extra fees when paying with plastic or using bank machines, especially in Asia. Plus, when you pay cash using the local currency you have the opportunity to bargain, even if you don't speak the language. As long as you understand how the currency works you can always write down your offer. If your trip is more than a week, bring enough cash for the first part then either cash in your travellers cheque or make an ATM withdrawal for the latter part of your trip. That way you limit the amount of fees. Gisella Chung

Pack light for multiple reasons: 1. Some airline loyalty programs allow for overages on the level of weight or pieces of luggage, but even on the same program, the actual allowances may vary. 2. The second reason is to be mobile, and being willing to switch hotels to minimize the total cost outlay, some hotels maintain drastically different rates for different reasons and being willing to switch hotels can greatly reduce the total cost. John S Lee

Get an account at a bank that has reciprocal arrangements with banks around the world – in this way you will not be charged any banking fees when using international banking machines. For example ScotiaBank cards can be used in Australia and New Zealand at Westpac Bank without any fees. If you can, carry both euros and U.S. dollars – some places offer better deals if you pay in one currency over the other. Keith Clark

Remember ground transport may be cheap at the destination. A flight to Varadero is cheaper than to Havana and the round trip Viazul bus trip is only $25. Andrew Douglas

Absolutely, positively, take your Rogers/Telus/Bell phone SIM card and pitch it into the nearest toilet upon arrival. If you have a smart phone, find out how to “unlock” it. When you arrive, buy a local prepaid SIM card with a local phone number. mcmikex

Ask housekeeping staff where is an economical place to do laundry or get it done; generally hotel laundry services are expensive. Ruth Hillman

Train travel, like local bus, can help you meet so many interesting people. After all, isn't that why we travel? raider

WEBSITES OUR READERS LOVE

If you want a good deal, you need to know where to look – and click. Our readers share their favourite money-saving travel websites:

Sign up for deals in the cities you are planning to visit, just make sure you read the fine print on blackout dates. Great for activities and restaurant offers. OneSpout.com is a good resource. MandyJ1

I have used HomeAway.ca a couple of times and look forward to travelling to Italy later this month and staying at two more apartments. Petunia04

Use Google Street View: If they've done the area you're travelling to, it gives you a real feel of where you are going before you get there. Whack-a-Troll

For travel to London, use the excellent website LondonTown.com. It offers a number of types of accommodation. Small-budget hotels cost around $150 (Canadian). Judy Fleming

Booking.com has become my new site for hotel bookings, especially when I can plan ahead of time. Their rates are great and most of the time, you can make changes if you need to. Margaret Buttner

If you are taking a cruise, join CruiseCritic.com and network with people on the same cruise. Keith Clark

Try viator.com for savings on tours and events. West End Boy

I got a great hotwire.com deal in Savannah with the assistance of hotwirerevealed.com, which helped me narrow down my hotel choice. I've also used HolidayLettings.co.uk for rental accommodations. TJ2

Always read tripadvisor.com comments about hotels and restaurants. People like me do take the time to make good and bad comments and I am so thankful to others who have done that, too. LucyQ

Use vrbo.com. Great variety, great pricing, much better rates than hotels (2,500-square-foot house rather than a hotel room), and usually better locations. Plus it's a lot of fun as well. Great for family vacations. The RealMucker

Airbnb.com is a site where you can find an awesome room in someone's apartment, or sometimes get a whole apartment, in central locations. Usually you'll have access to a kitchen, laundry and a local who will give you awesome advice and get you off the tourist track. Each host is reviewed by people who stayed with them, so you can have a good idea of what you're in for. Kristy

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