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Honeymoon Cost Cutters

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

If you plan well and know your travel priorities, spending on your honeymoon doesn't have to break the bank.

First and foremost, decide what you really want from a vacation together. Time on the beach, sightseeing, hiking in the mountains; the options are endless. Narrowing your interests will focus the search and make it easier.

Travel is one area where ingenuity and persistence pay off in added savings, so be prepared to devote time to the project.

Lodging

When calling for hotel reservations, always try both the 800 number and the hotel directly. Compare the rates you've given. Be sure to ask the hotel reservation agent if they have any sales or special promotions. This could be anything from a free breakfast to an extra's night stay, but they won't offer it unless you inquire.

Other places to seek lodging discounts include state welcome centers, the internet, the local chamber of commerce or the convention and visitors bureau.

Avoid city centers. Even a small shift in location can save lodging money. You can use convenient rail or public transport links to the city.

When booking, be sure to mention it's your honeymoon. Hotels often honor newlyweds with fruit baskets or complimentary champagne-nice extras which cost you nothing.

Consider renting a condo, small house or townhouse. They can be cheaper by the week than staying in a hotel. You'll feel pampered with so much additional space and a kitchen provides more money-saving dining alternatives.

In some areas, smaller mom and pop hotels provide a good value, with breakfast included in the price. This is especially true in European cities. However, make it a point to see the room before agreeing to the price.

Transportation

Finding inexpensive airfare is all about comparison shopping. For the best results, expect to spend time researching the web, phoning and scanning the Sunday newspapers. Three quick phone calls won't cut it, but 30 phone calls might. Keep in mind fares change hourly.

Flying on Monday or Tuesday will be cheaper than the weekend. If necessary, stick around after the wedding until Monday afternoon. Your wallet will thank you.

The month in which you travel makes a considerable difference in price. Flights to Europe, for example will be highest in June, July and August. Caribbean flights will most likely be higher in January, February and March.

Tour packages, which include airfare, can be the better bargain. Compare the individual segments with purchasing a package.

Booking airfares online can save you 10 percent, while some airlines now charge a small fee if you book on the phone.

Don't over pack, as the airlines can charge for extra bags or overweight luggage.

Look into fare-tracking services such as travelocity.com or expedia.com. They can monitor price changes on selected routings.

When you find a rental car price that fits your budget and travel time, lock in the rate by making a reservation. You won't be penalized if you cancel the reservation later and find a better deal with another agency.

You may be eligible for discounts with specific car rental agencies because of your connection with a credit union, college alumni association, fraternal organization, frequent flyer account, or through your automobile club membership.

Food and Fun

Visit a local farmers market and pick up food for a spontaneous picnic. The experience will be fun and the meal easy on the budget.

Set a daily food budget and splurge only once or twice.

Consider eating at smaller, local establishments, away from the tourist crowds. Costs will be lower and ambiance higher.

Vacation cities such as Chicago, London and New York offer Day-of Theater tickets at half-price.

Find out if the local tourism office has a discount booklet for attractions and museums. The amounts you save will add up.

Miscellaneous

Some of the best things in life are free: an afternoon stroll hand-in-hand beneath the Eiffel Tower, or a midnight swim under a full moon.

Don't forget to budget for hidden costs such as departure taxes, tipping, airport taxes, etc.

Check out large department stores for souvenirs. They usually have local knickknacks and postcards at prices below tourist shops.

Figure out foreign currency in advance. Memorize the US equivalent for $1, $5 and $10, then you'll know quickly about how much you're spending.

If you need maps, buy them abroad, instead of in the U.S. They'll be cheaper and the selection wider.

Remember, three of the most expensive activities when traveling are drinking alcohol, shopping and gambling.


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