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Our 5th and final speaker of #FT4RL is Debra from Traveling Well for Less talking about tricks to save money while on vacation.  So much of the discussion we talk about is how to fly for free, or book the great hotel.  But although hotel and transportation are major costs, once you get on the ground, how do you keep THOSE costs down (since other than Barclay or other cash-equivalent points, you’re not going to be able to redeem miles for most of those costs.  Her presentation focused on car rentals, meals

Car Rentals

car-iconOften time the prices are best early on and get more expensive closer and closer to the date, especially in more resort locations like Orlando or Hawaii.  But sometimes there is a “golden window” 3-4 days before

Her suggestion for the cheapest car rental places were Costco and USAA.  Costco has no extra driver fees but you do have to have a Costco membership.  USAA is for military members, but you can set up a free membership.  With USAA they don’t charge any extra fees for young drivers.

Another option is off-airport locations, which can be somewhere around 50% cheaper than the airport locations, and oftentimes they are located nearby hotels that offer free shuttles to/from the airport.

There was also a question about the CDW (Collision / Damage Waiver) on car rentals and certain countries (Ireland, Israel and Jamaica as some example).  There are certain cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and some of the Citi ThankYou cards which will cover that.


food-iconMeals are another big expense, especially for a family as big as mine!  When you’re staying at a place that has

Hotel lounges are another big winner – if you have status with a hotel and are staying at a hotel that has a lounge, that can be enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One suggestion was that you can bring ziploc baggies to the lounge to pack meals for later.  Apparently, some Hyatts will even box a meal up for you if you ask.

There are also often free destination coupon books at airports or in the local paper.

Obviously statuses that give free breakfast are killer here – Hilton Gold is probably the easiest to get (several credit cards offer it for free) and gives free breakfast.  When you’re talking about 8 breakfasts, obviously the savings add up pretty quickly there.

A specific tip that was mentioned with and Disney World – there’s one in the Swan and Dolphin at Disney World where with each entree they watch your kids for 2 hours for free, and you can get heavily discounted gift certificates for those restaurants at

Local activities

cable-car-san-franciscoYou can check with the local Costco for discounted tickets to local attractions.  You can’t get a discount ticket to say, Disney World at the Cincinnati Costco, but the one in Orlando will.

There are lots of free coupon books / visitor guides that you can check out – one suggestion was to contact the local visitor’s bureau or chamber of commerce.  If you reach out to them and let them know you’re coming, oftentimes they will give you additional free coupons for things you might already be looking to do!

Another suggestion was that many cities offer a “City pass” which will give you free or discounted admission to several different of the most popular attractions.  So in San Francisco you might be able to pay one (discounted) price and get tickets for the cable cars, and Fisherman’s Wharf, etc.


Now that we’re at the end, I just wanted to give a ton of thanks to Dia for organizing the FT4RL conference, to Shawn, Jason, Phil, Susan and Debra for presenting, and to all the other attendees.  I had a great time at the conference, and I enjoyed being the “example” in many circumstances with my many kids 🙂  I really enjoyed meeting some new people – happy travels to everyone!!



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