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With a little preparation, you can save money, and stay safe.

By Notso Funny, SeniorARK Editor


1. Remember  discounts and coupons
Don't forget discounts. If you're a member of any organization, such as AAA or AARP, ask about travel discounts. Also, look for those statewide hotel and restaurant coupon booklets that sit in piles at rest stops and tourist centers. The discounts can be significant.

2. Book motels before leaving home

Chances are you are not vacationing with your computer (or are you?). Shopping through hotel discount sites can save a pile of money. So do your homework before you leave. If you can save by booking ahead, that is one less thing to worry about along the way.

3. Stay with a friend

Route your trip so you can spend a night or two with family or friends. Chances are, they will be happy to see you, and this is a wonderful opportunity for a visit. Ask about sights in the area, and make it a mini vacation within a vacation.

4. Take a cooler with you
Travel with a cooler so you're not purchasing drinks and snacks at every rest stop. Make some sandwiches in advance to save at least on food for the first day.

5. Get creative saving on food
Sample local fare from a farmer's market and enjoy a picnic dinner at a peaceful stop along the way. Also, when booking a room for an extended stay, look for one with a kitchenette. It is easy for a couple to spend more on eating out each day than they spend for the room.

6. Buy those odds and ends before leaving.
Tourist spots sell everything from film to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun -- at a higher cost. Purchase these items before you leave home and save. You know where the best prices are at home. I take an extra quart of oil and window washing liquid in the trunk. And don't forget the roll of paper towels and the box of tissues. My mother always said. "You can never have too many Kleenex".

7. Take some tools

We don't mean enough for a major project. Just a couple screwdrivers, hammer pliers, and perhaps a small ratchet wrench set. Avery small roll of wire for attaching something always comes in handy. The kind florists use to attach things.

8. Take emergency equipment

Read our SeniorARK article: "Things We All Need To Carry in Our Cars in Case of Emergency"

9. Check out the car before leaving

An automobile tow or repair can be an expensive proposition on a trip. If you cannot check your cars fluids, tires, etc on your own, go to your friendly neighborhood mechanic before leaving so your car can get the once-over.

10. Organize your packing

Read the MSNBC article on: Be prepared for your next road trip by making the most of your space

11. Map your route

Go online to a service like mapquest.com, or Yahoo Maps and ask for a route plan. If you are a member of AAA they will do a route for you, warn you about construction, speed traps, and other obstacles. They may also have other info on attractions along the way that will make the drive more enjoyable.

12. Pack your favorite pillows. They will add to your comfort on the road, and at your destination.

13. Buy a disposable cell phone. If you do not have a cell phone, go to Wal-Mart or some such place and pick up a $20 cell phone for the trip. This is the temporary answer to breaking down on a dark, lonely, road, or needing some other type of immediate help. 


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