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6 Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

These trip-booking shortcuts will save you a ton of cash.

Photo: Corbis

Q: With the dollar so weak, are there any European destinations that I can still get some bang for my US bucks?
A: Lisbon, Portugal. It has great architecture, delicious food, 100-year-old cafes, and incredible nightlife. Or try a hot non-European destination like Argentina.

Q: Are there any benefits to booking through an online agency?
A: To research flights, use meta search engines like But if your schedule is fixed, stay loyal to one airline so you can take advantage of free tickets and upgrades.

Q: Is it more cost-effective to buy a cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phone abroad or use your US cell phone?
A: With a pay-as-you-go phone, you save money when calling locally within the country you’re in. Just remember that the worst way to call home is from your hotel room, where charges can be as high as $8 a minute. 

Q: Are all-inclusives worth it?
A: Think about what you want and then compare that to what’s being offered. If the resort offers tennis courts and a pro, three pools, and a nightclub, but you have no plans to use that stuff, forget it. Otherwise, it's a deal. Just don’t rip off the hotel’s wrist band the morning of check-out -- you usually have to turn it in at the front desk or could risk paying hundreds of dollars for a new one.

Q: Which hotel chains offer the best rewards system?
A: The brand you use the most will always be the one that rewards you the best. Companies look out for returning customers, and an overbooked hotel is going to bump a nonmember before a member. Some hotels have perks: Omni delivers a free in-room beverage every morning, and Wyndham stocks your room with stuff you like based on history -- like peanut M&Ms and red wine. Who says you can’t buy loyalty?

Q: Where can I learn about travel-volunteer programs?
A: Try because you can volunteer as close to home as Montana and as far away as Africa. But before you leave home with the best of intentions, you should ask yourself the hard question of whether or not you’re really up for it. Talk to previous participants to get a sense of what the experience will be like.

Nestperts Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel; Ayse Boykin of TravelStore Platinum; Erik Torkells of Budget Travel

Get more travel ideas for couples here.
Before setting off on your voyage, don't forget to print out a copy of our Travel Essentials Checklist.

-- Cemile Kavountzis

See More: Travel for Two , Budgeting , Love & Sex