Tips for traveling on a budget

August 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
People are cutting back on their leisurely expenses in this tough economy, like travel. However, they don't have to. Niki Leondakis, COO of San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, shares insider tips and recourses that allow families to travel on a budget.

Travel tips:

"Road Warrior" Discounts:
Many hotels now offer discounts like gas cards and parking rebates to guests arriving by car. For example, hotels across the country, including the Marriott and Kimpton hotels, offer road warrior discounts to provide added incentives to more local guests. Additionally, many B&Bs across the country are participating in a program called "Tanks a Lot," where guests receive a rebate when refueling. Participating B&Bs can be found on BedandBreakfast.com

Calculate gas cost:
With the price of gas at an all-time high, it's useful to calculate how much your road trip will cost before you hit the road. The website by AAA called FuelCostCalculator.com actually calculates how much it will cost you in gas to go from point A to point B.

Check It Out:
Before traveling, check out the online tourist website or visitor's bureau for tips how to use local transportation, what to see, and to find deals on cost-free activities in your destination city. Not only do you save money, but you get to experience the city like a local.

Happy Hotel Stays:
When choosing a hotel, research the freebies and complimentary items, from breakfast to wine hours. Many hotels include the price of coffee in the morning, parking, etc. or already have the price built in. Also, Instead of sacrificing your top pick for hotels because of the price, ask about upgrading to a room with two king beds instead of getting two separate hotel rooms when traveling in a group.

Minimize Meal Costs:
Good food doesn't have to be expensive, nor do you have to settle for fast food while traveling. A few tips to remember are eat where the locals do, find out what food is in abundance at your destination (from the best bagels in NY to pizza in Chicago), visit the local supermarket to stock your in-room fridge.

Slim your Suitcase:
With airlines charging for additional bags and adding fees for heavier luggage, it's important to pack light. My all-in-one charger and adapter by iGo is one product I can't travel without. This can charge virtually any electronic device from any power source, and it lets you charge two devices simultaneously - a great time-saver if you're on the go.

Another great tip - I don't know about you, but I tend to overpack when I go away. One of my favorite items is Nike Women's Free running shoes, which fold up to fit in even the smallest space in my bag, so I don't have to sacrificing suitcase space to have workout gear.

Also pack dresses made from wrinkle-free cottons, knits, and permanent press items, which always look crisp at the end of the day, taking you straight through dinner. A great way to wear the same dress twice in one trip - pack a small variety of accessories and change the look by wearing a different scarf or bold necklace.

Don't Double-up on Insurance:
Don't pay for trip insurance you don't need. Before you fork over the big bucks for trip cancellations, rental car insurance and others, check and see if your credit card already covers you. Some cards provide such coverage automatically, as long as you use the card to book your flight, accommodations, or rental car.

About Niki Leondakis:
Niki is COO of San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Niki provides personal and professional insights on how to offset the rising travel costs.


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