NEW YORK (AP) — Finances are weighing heavily on the minds of Americans as they consider whether to take a roadtrip this summer. An AP-Gfk poll found that 56 percent of Americans don't plan to take a leisure trip this summer. A majority of those people said they cancelled a trip for financial reasons.
Still, 42 percent of Americans do plan a leisure trip. For those hopping in the car, here are six tips on how you can save money as you set out this summer.
Keep an eye out for welcome centers near state lines. They're an excellent source of coupons for nearby motels and tourist attractions.
Check the Internet for deals before you leave. A lot of hotels are offering discounts this summer. Super 8 Motels will take 15 percent off its nightly rate if you book eight days in advance.
Bring a cooler. Food is one of the biggest expenses on any road trip. The more you get from the grocery store, the better. Travel site RoadTrip America lists dozens of "road food" recipes from blackberry rice krispies treats to the hardcore road tripper's omelet in a bag. See them at www.roadtripamerica.com/recipes/recipes.htm
Haggle. No room rate is fixed — especially when the hotel parking lot is empty. If a place seems largely vacanct, feel free to inquire about a special discount. Mark Sedenquist, publisher of the roadtripamerica.com Web site and a frequent rate haggler, boasts a 70 percent success rate. "Motel owners are much more interested in having full occupancy than getting their standard rate," he said.
If you're visiting national parks and federal recreational lands, consider an annual pass. At $80 for the general public and $10 for seniors, it may be a cheaper way to get around. You can find more information about the passes here: http://store.usgs.gov/pass/general.html.
Look around for hidden discounts. Soccer clubs, church groups, professional organizations and other groups have prearranged travel discounts at various hotels and tourist spots. See if you qualify.
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