WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend is often celebrated with a road trip.
AAA Travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this holiday, representing a 4.7% increase from last year and the highest travel volume for Memorial Day in 10 years.
With so many people hitting the road, planning ahead will ensure a smooth trip with lots of savings. Here are several tips to ensure a carefree and budget-friendly getaway.
Prep your car. Get your vehicle serviced to ensure a smooth trip, check the air pressure in your tires for optimal gas mileage, pack a cooler with refreshments and snacks, and make sure you have chargers for all your necessary gadgets.
Call your bank and credit card company t o alert them of your upcoming trip. Provide a general route or cities you'll be visiting so they don't think there's any fraudulent activity.
Beware of skimmers. Monitor your online bank and credit card statements daily. Thieves use "skimming" devices to steal bank and credit card data, often placed inside credit card slots on gas pumps and ATMs. If any swipe machines look like they're been tampered with, pay with cash or go to another rest area or restaurant.
Research gas prices. Use the GasBuddy website or download their free app to research fuel prices along your route to find the cheapest price per gallon.
Decode lodging deals. You can find discounted luxury digs from hotels looking to fill unsold rooms via the HotelTonight app, or you could buy someone's unwanted reservation for less through the site RoomerTravel. Otherwise, check CouponSherpa.com for travel deals at third-party hotel booking sites like $50 off $350 at Hotels.com, $30 off a three-night hotel stay at BookIt, $30 off $250 at HotelWiz, or score a free night through VRBO.
Pitch a tent. Research camping spots along your route at ReserveAmerica.com and make a reservation before you hit the road.
Make the most of the drive. Download the Roadtrippers app to find fun activities along your route or the Field Trip app to discover cool spots like historic sites and quaint shops.
Mind your data use. Download maps or any apps from your home or hotel before hitting the road, enable your WiFi locator to find free connections en route, and turn off push notifications from social media and email apps to avoid additional charges.
Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., grew up in New Rochelle. Now based in California, her deals and discount advice can be found at www.AndreaWoroch.com/ .
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