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CheapTickets knows there’s no need to break the bank for a fabulous vacation, so we’ve hunted down fantastic money-saving dining tips from our savviest globetrotters (that’s you guys) for that guilt-free, lavish vacation of your dreams.

RELATED: 8 expert ways to save on flights

BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)

Food anywhere past TSA is expensive, including what you purchase onboard. Always bring some TSA-friendly snacks on the plane; it’ll save you tons of money at the airport but also keep things healthy. Fruits, nuts, hummus packs, popcorn and power bars are all good choices that won’t go bad on you.

Browse menus before heading out

When dining out, always look up menu prices online before you go to make sure that it’s within your budget and you are not sprung with a bill you cannot afford.

Search online for local dining deals

Use apps like Yelp to not only find great restaurants, but also to find special deals. Just select “Offering a Deal” under Filters. Similarly, you can search Groupon for special discounts to restaurants and food tours, not to mention spas, cruises, live shows and more.

Share your big news!

Whether it’s your honeymoon, anniversary or birthday, it often pays to let restaurant staff know. You could end up getting VIP treatment, and maybe even a little something free. We recently got a free treatment at a hotel spa because our birthday was that weekend!

Avoid eating in touristy areas

Restaurant prices are almost always higher in highly touristed areas and near major attractions. In a lot of cases you can save a significant amount of money—and typically get a better meal—just by going a few blocks away, or even to a different neighborhood.

Booze it up at happy hour

Some cities like Portland, DC and San Diego really go big for happy hour. So do a lot of resorts and hotels. With deals that often include half priced drinks and appetizers, it’s definitely worth seeking these out.

See if your hotel offers a free reception

Several hotels and hotel chains, including Kimpton, Homewood Suites and Embassy Suites, offer complimentary receptions that help you get a head start on your vacation buzz with a glass of wine or two!

Know where to drink (and not drink) the water

Getting sick on the road can ruin a vacation, fast—and cost you time and money with an ER visit. Sticking to bottled water can save you a lot of money in the long run. Also, in locations where you can’t drink the water, be wary of ice cubes in your drink, since they’re likely made from tap water, as well.

Book a room with a kitchen

Of course you’ll want to sample the local cuisine and hit those much-buzzed-about restaurants. But there’s no reason to eat every meal out, especially if you have a family in tow. Ponying up a few extra bucks for a room with a kitchenette and fridge means you can bring your leftovers home, and cook up less important meals like breakfast and lunch—saving your food budget for nicer dinners out.

Book hotels with breakfast included

When booking a hotel or hostel, look for ones with free perks included, like breakfast. It might sound like a small perk, but breakfast alone could save you $12–$15 per person (if not more) per day. Be sure to book on a site like CheapTickets that lets you filter your search results by perk.

Try the cafe version of a fine-dining restaurant

Quite a few upscale restaurants have a cheaper, more casual cafe version nearby. In Chicago, think celeb chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill located right next door to his more upscale Topolobampo. Or in the Bay Area, remember Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cafe located right upstairs from her famed Chez Panisse Restaurant. If you’re in LA, eat at Petite Trois versus the Michelin-starred Trois Mec in the same location. Dining at the cafe version will save you money while still getting to sample the talents of a star chef.

Bring a reusable water bottle

Always bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up at a water fountain—be green and save green at the same time!

Go for lunch, not dinner

If there’s a pricey place you absolutely must try, consider going for lunch instead of dinner, since midday meals tend to be cheaper. You’ll enjoy a similar meal for a whole lot less.

Go coupon crazy

Whether you’re on a road trip route or exploring a new city, search for restaurant coupons in the areas you’ll be visiting. Apps like Groupon and Yelp often offer solid discounts at select area restaurants.

BYOB

On your way to your hotel, stop by the grocery store to stock up on snacks, water and booze. This will prevent you from giving in to any late-night mini-bar cravings!

Ask locals for recommendations

Wise travelers know that bartenders tend to make the best affordable dining recommendations—while concierges often make the worst. After all, concierges tend to get kick backs from area restaurants to tout them. Your bartender, on the other hand, will know where regular folks like to dine.

Sample the street food

The food truck craze is at its peak, and that’s a beautiful thing. Besides offering affordable meals on the go, they tend to cluster in certain areas at certain times, so you’ll have a nice variety of eats to choose from—great for when you and your travel companion can’t reach a consensus! City markets, food halls and farmers markets are another great way to sample a variety of tasty local cuisine at a reasonable price.

Combine eating and sightseeing

Taking a food tour is kind of a twofer. Whether it’s a walking tour or a bus tour, you’ll get to sample an area’s most iconic eats while also getting interesting little tidbits about different neighborhoods and attractions. You can book a food tour ahead of time—in the same place as you book your flight, hotel and car—on CheapTickets.com.

Make sure you’re actually getting a deal at Duty Free

Duty Free shops at airports around the world have a reputation for offering cheaper luxury items like booze and chocolate, as well as perfume, cigarettes and more. But these products might not actually be cheaper than they are at home. Fortunately, you can do a quick price comparison on products before you buy on a site like Duty Free Addict: Just type in your destination, the category of the product you’re interested in (such as alcohol, electronics, etc), the brand and then the actual product. The tool will instantly tell you which airports offer it for the best price, and which are most pricey.

Leave your cards in your wallet

When dining out or heading to a bar for the evening, only allow yourself a budgeted amount of cash—once it’s gone it’s gone. Your pocket and budget will thank you in the morning.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Because they create frantic dashes from one gate to another, layovers are often panic inducing. Then there’s the stopover, a full day (or more!) between major flights, that allow for bonus exploration in cities as far flung as Hong Kong and Reykjavik—and have definitely become a recent trend among savvy travelers. But what about connections where you have anywhere from 4 to 8 hours between flights? This sweet middle spot allows for what we’re calling a “playover.” A playover happens when an airport is close enough to a downtown to make a day trip doable—without missing the flight. Not only is this a better way to pass time, but it’s a great opportunity to check big cities off your bucket list. So forget leafing through the latest gossip rags at Hudson News and instead add a playover itinerary in one of these great cities to your next vacation.

RELATED: America’s 7 hottest beer neighborhoods

Legal Harborside at the Envoy Hotel

Boston

Beantown is named for the baked dish, but Boston is also tiny like a bean and super easy to explore with little time! Logan Airport offers a quick and free bus to the Seaport District; or take an airport shuttle to the “T” which drops visitors downtown in 30 minutes.

If Seaport District bound, stroll the historic Boston Fish Pier where workers arrive at dawn to move fresh catches from boats to nearby eateries. Speaking of noshing on seafood, check out either Legal Harborside (those views!) or Outlook Kitchen at the Envoy Hotel. Afterward, stroll the 1.5-acre Rose Kennedy Greenway for selfies, then view a few masterworks at the waterfront Institute of Contemporary Art before circling back to Logan.

Seeking a more iconic Boston? Ride the “T” subway to downtown and exit at the Aquarium stop. First, check out the Old State House—site of the Boston Massacre. From here, walk one block to the Old South Meeting House—where the Boston Tea Party began. Next, walk 10-minutes to Neptune Oyster where you’ll wait in line (but thank us later) for killer lobsta’ rolls. You’re a stone’s throw to the Paul Revere House so check that out and while you’re there grab a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry before returning to Logan.

Cost: Free to Seaport District, $2.50 to return; $2.75 each way to/from downtown

Travel time: 18 mins to Seaport; 30 mins to downtown

Centennial Park

Atlanta

Take a bite out of the Big Peach! Aboard a downtown-bound MARTA train, a half-day playover in Atlanta is as easy and refreshing as a glass of sweet tea.

Ride either the Red or Gold line to the PeachTree Center stop. Upon arrival, walk 10 minutes east down Andrew Young International Boulevard to Centennial Olympic Park and check out the Fountain of Rings, a spectacular water display and direct antecedent to the Bellagio Fountains in Vegas. Where to go next? Both the Georgia Aquarium (think puffins, penguins and piranhas) and World of Coca Cola (think timelines, tasting rooms and TV ads) are a mere five-minute walk from the fountains and prime Atlanta attractions.

You’re not going to leave without filling your belly with Southern food, right? Jump in a taxi or ride share and zip down MLK Boulevard to beloved Busy Bee Cafe, an Atlanta fixture since the ’40s, and dream of fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits while waiting in the long queue. Afterward, zip back to downtown and take an Inside CNN Studio Tour (if there’s time) before returning to Hartsfield Airport via the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center transit station.

Cost: $2.50 each way

Travel time: 20 mins to downtown

ALSO: Sign up for CheapCash and get more “go” for less dough!

Millennium Park

Chicago

Stop whining about how much you hate O’Hare Airport and start marveling at world-famous art and architecture instead. Both Midway and O’Hare are connected to downtown via the city’s “El” rail system making a half-day playover in Chi-Town a cinch!

If coming from O’Hare, exit at the Washington stop and hit the ground running. Millennium Park is justly famous and includes numerous thrills within a span of few blocks. Snap a selfie in front of photogenic Cloud Gate (aka “the Bean”); stroll through magnificent Lurie Garden; then cross the Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge to Maggie Daley Park for impressive Lakeshore views.

From here, stroll north along Columbus Ave and admire groovy Aqua Tower. At Wacker Drive, descend a flight of stairs and follow the Chicago Riverwalk past pretty flowerbeds, tourist boats and architectural icons like Marina City and the Wrigley Building. At State Street, walk south past the iconic Chicago Theatre and onward to Revival Food Hall. Grab some brisket at Smoque and a cookie for the road at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate before making the two-block walk to the Jackson stop for an airport return.

Cost: $2.50 each way

Travel time: 50 mins via O’Hare; 35 via Midway

Denver Union Station

Denver

Unless you arrive at Denver International Airport wearing cross-country skis, you probably won’t have time to hit the slopes. But did you know the MallRide will connect you to downtown’s revitalized Union Station and its many attractions in under 40 minutes for free?

A six-stop journey connects the airport to the city and brings visitors to Union Station, which underwent a dramatic transformation in 2014. The restaurants inside the station are not to be skipped and include the culinary stylings of several James Beard Award winners. Grab a seat at the bar at Mercantile Dining & Provision and enjoy farm-to-table fare like almond crusted halibut cheeks and duck confit; Ultreia is also helmed by a Beard winner. Afterward, try a boozy shake from Milkbox Ice Creamery.

Time to work it all off. Walk 10 minutes to Larimer Square, a historic district and site of Denver’s founding. Mercifully, the Square is largely free of chains and it’s worth perusing the boutiques and admiring the pretty lights strung up over the streets. Next, circle back toward Union Station via 15th Street, but this time stroll behind the building for a dose of greenery including Centennial Flower Gardens and Common Park. Both sit in close proximity to Elitch’s, an urban amusement park, but you’ve got another plane to catch so best return to Union Station for a ride back to the airport.

Cost: Free

Travel time: 40 mins to Union Station

The Park Las Vegas

Las Vegas

A city that sucks up money faster than a dust buster, Vegas is perfect for just a few hours and McCarran Airport’s close proximity to the Strip makes it easily doable via a budget-friendly WAX express bus.

In two stops, you’ll arrive at New York-New York. Walk north to the Park Las Vegas, Sin City’s charming desert playground, and check out 40-foot sculpture “Bliss Dance.” Afterward, do dinner at speakeasy-like Bavette’s Steakhouse inside the new Park MGM (save room for the cream pie). For a post-prandial libation, hit up Chandelier at the swank Cosmopolitan and order the off-menu “Flower Drink.”

Ditch the crowds in front of the Bellagio Fountains and instead see the show from Hyde Bellagio (there’s no cover before 10pm). Next, cross the street and press your luck at the LINQ Hotel, stroll the bustling LINQ Promenade and ride the High Roller for stellar Vegas views before taking the WAX bus back to McCarran.

Cost: $2 each way

Travel time: 15 mins to the Las Vegas Strip

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Chicago, City, Destinations, Flights, Las Vegas, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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A day at the beach or pool is usually equal parts fun and relaxing, but if you want to kick it up a notch, you’re going to have pack more than just some SPF and a good book in your tote. These fun, quirky items will not only make your days of soaking up the sun more enjoyable, they’re also great conversation starters—which means the beach party starts with you.

ALSO: The best vacation to take at every stage of your relationship

Photo courtesy of Ultimate Ears

UE Atmosphere Roll 2 speaker (ultimateeaters.com; $99)
When it comes to waterproof speakers, this one constantly tops the list for techies in the know. It produces top-notch sound and is super easy to travel with.

Photo courtesy of IcyBreeze

Icy breeze portable air conditioner and cooler (icybreeze.com; $249)
You might have seen this worth-the-splurge product on “Shark Tank.” It’s a cooler with an AC unit attached, so you can beat the heat with a cold beverage and a constant flow of cool air pointed in your direction. The air travels up to 25 miles per hour—perfect for having a Beyonce moment at the beach.

Photo courtesy of Fab.com

Verity beach towel (fab.com; $70)
Want to draw some attention to your poolside setup? Bring this bright, multifaceted-shaped towel and be prepared to constantly answer the question, “where did you get that awesome towel?”

Photo courtesy of

Cooler bag with racket set (fab.com; $40)
If you’re looking for more of a budget-friendly cooler, this is a good option. It also comes with two wooden paddles and a rubber paddle ball, so it’s game on after snack time.

ALSO: Make a splash with Orbitz Rewards. Sign up today!

Photo: Amazon.com

iPowerHouse solar phone charger (amazon.com; $30)
This is how you become the most popular person at the pool: Offer up free charges via this compact solar phone charger and you’ll surely spark up an interesting conversation with your poolside neighbors.

Photo: Amazon.com

Zing Anything Citrus Zinger sport cap water bottle (amazon.com; $18)
Add a little zest to your beach beverage with this bottle which features equipment that juices citrus fruits and infuses them into your drink. The bottle is intended for water, but we won’t judge if you get creative with your imbibing choices.

Tagged: Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Call for all cheap travel tips, big and small!

How cheap are you? So cheap that you have enough cheap travel tips to fill a book? That plethora of knowledge could win you 1 of 5 free vacations if you enter it into the Show Us Your Cheap contest.

We’re giving away trips to 5 winners with the best tips to Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii.

Enter here and share your best cheap travel time along with a vacation photo. Just for entering and sharing the Show Us Your Cheap contest with your friends you can get $20 in CheapCa$h to use on a hotel booking.

For a little bit of inspiration, here are some travel hacks from lifehacks to get the creative juices flowing:

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lifehacks5

Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, City, Flights, FREE!, Hawaii, International, Mexico, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

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