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How to find coupon codes, where to get free tours and other money-saving tips for travelers|
1. Book a home, not a hotel
With accommodation often accounting for a huge chunk out of your travel budget, it's one of the easiest ways to cut your costs.
If you plan and time it right, home swapping can allow you to stay somewhere for free. It also means someone is looking after your place while you're away -- as long as you're not creeped out by the thought of a stranger nosing through your stuff.
Two well-established home swapping sites are HomeExchange.com and HomeLink.org.
There are a range of new players in the home/apartment rental space. Among them, Great Space, which touts something of a premium database of accommodations.
The more established Airbnb is another way to rent a local's place often at half the price of a hotel in the same city. You can also use Airbnb to rent out your own home while you're on your holiday.
2. Strategize your flight booking
There are a few ways to save money when booking an air ticket.
Air tickets are usually the cheapest on Tuesdays as airfare sales usually start late Monday. It's cheapest to fly midweek.
When quoting prices for two passengers or more, split up your purchase and shop for one passenger first. Otherwise, the system will look for ticket options for the requested seat numbers -- which is not necessarily the cheapest option.
3. Go to the next tourist destinations first
It may sound like we're being simplistic, but few people bother to research alternative destinations despite knowing they will be cheaper. Popular tourist spots inevitably increase their prices, so instead of Venice, how about Lake Ohrid in Macedonia or Lviv in Ukraine?
Places like these are still priced for residents instead of tourists.
4. Accumulate small savings
Here are some things many travelers often overlook: insurance, phone roaming fees and a credit card's foreign transaction fee.
Insurance companies deliver discounts for careful travelers. Essential Travel's "Use your head" campaign for example gives skiers a 15 percent discount if they wear a helmet.
Also, check with your existing credit card companies for travel perks -- some such as HSBC and Citibank often offer free travel insurance if you use them to book your holiday.
If you have to use a phone while you're abroad, get a local SIM card or use free apps such as Skype or Viber, as long as the required local Wi-Fi isn't too expensive.
5. Compare prices, find discounts
There are many decent travel deal sites out there.
FareCompare helps you compare flight fares on different sites all at once. Mobile apps like Kayak go even further to cross-check hotel, car rental and flight prices (even the checked baggage fee) from any location for free.
Yapta tracks flight price changes before you buy and checks for airline refunds after purchase.
6. Use booking sites with loyalty perks
Hotels.com recently introduced a buy-10-nights-get-one-free deal. HotelPlanner.com is giving away US$500 in free hotel rooms to its loyal Facebook, Twitter and mobile app fans once a week.
Booking sites like Agoda.com and Booking.com now give loyalty points to customers. They reward you with points after each purchase that you can use later on another booking.
These websites also promise the best price guaranteed, meaning you can get a refund if you spot a cheaper offer after booking with them.
7. Don't be lazy, get loyal
No matter if it is hotels, airlines or car rental companies you are using, join their loyalty programs. It's too easy to miss out on hundreds of dollars worth of perks simply because you can't be bothered filling in the application.
Accor's A|Club and IHG's Priority Club cover thousands of hotels worldwide. It's a sure bet if you use a chain hotel, they'll have a program you can join.
Two things to pay attention to: there may be a service charge involved when redeeming your points, and make sure your rewards points are added to your account after any purchase.
8. Use locals, not expensive tour agencies
Connecting with a local on your trip not only ensures you avoid the tourist traps, it also is a lot cheaper than using a large professional tour company.
Twigmore is a new online community dedicated for travelers on Facebook.
You can also book local independent tour guides directly in hundreds of cities from Localguiding.com or from one of the biggest independent tour providers in Europe -- Sandemans New Europe Tours.
These often offer tours for free, so it's a nice geture to give a tip after the tour to ensure this kind of initiative can continue for others.
9. Look for travel coupon codes
Before booking travel arrangements, check out travel coupons available on travel sites or sites devoted for coupons fans.
A search on PromotionalCodes.com under the category "flight" comes up with 10 percent off for Emirates' tickets, 70 percent off airport parking, and more.
10. Share a ride
Environmentally friendly as well as cost efficient, ride sharing makes crossing the country cheaper and better.
Sites like mitfahrgelegenheit.de -- for Germany mostly but also have sites dedicated to a few other European cities and roadsharing.com -- mainly for Italy but also for other parts of Europe -- are popular, thus, yield more options for travelers.
For instance, sharing ride from Berlin to Munich costs EUR 20 to EUR 30 but a train ticket costs EUR 121.