More tips on how to travel smart

Kudos to USA TODAY for this. Some of it I’ve reported in the past, and some is new. All good. Very smart.

One thing I’d like to add to the airline-saving tips. If I’m on a flight that’s looking crowded and have the time (I realize most don’t), I let the folks at the gate know I’m willing to give up my seat if the flight ends up being overbooked.

I do this first thing, long before they realize they need volunteers and make an announcement. I usually get the next flight and arrive not much later than originally scheduled. Plus I get a nice airline coupon for a couple hundred dollars that’s good for an entire year. Really came in handy during my round-the-world trip.

And it’s really true about hotel rates being negotiable. I never deal with central reservations for hotel chains. I always call or e-mail directly. When I’m dealing with sites like Expedia, I always ask for coupons, letting them know I’m a frequent customer, which I am.

I especially like the bank fee and car rental information. And I adore Skype. Really saved me a bundle on my RTW trip.

But memo to William Shatner:  I don’t get Priceline. Finally tried it out recently for a rental car. The acceptable amount I could bid was much higher than what I ended up paying with Budget. How can that be? Simple. I called the guy at the Budget desk in L.A., in this case, and negotiated with him directly.

Not saying this works every time; but, as always, doesn’t hurt to ask.

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