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Make Memorial Day travel a savings event

With summer just around the corner, families are gearing up to leave the Valley to seek relief from the triple digits. With Memorial Day coming up, some 701,000 Arizonans will be traveling for the holiday, according to AAA Arizona.

Whether you’re traveling by air or land, there are ways to make it not only fun, but also affordable. Here are a few tips:

Transportation

• If traveling by air, check the airline’s policies and fees. Learn what you can carry on and plan ahead. Wear accessories and apparel items you’ll likely use on your trip while en route — sunglasses, hat, even a purse. It will save room in the suitcase and saves money on baggage fees.

• If hitting the road, remember prevention is key. Get the car inspected. Make sure tires have enough air and oil is at the correct level. That could help you avoid possible car malfunctions on the road. Also, don’t forget to check your insurance — know your coverage and be ready to use it.

• Save some dollars by making an itinerary. At the airport, research free transports to tourist areas, attractions and hotels. If you’re driving, map your route to avoid getting lost and saving more on gas.

Where to stay

• Hotels can be pricey. Looking for deals is a must. Sites like Groupon
and LivingSocial can be good places to start. Hotel chains also offer rewards for multiple stays, so if you’re planning a vacation in the summer, it might come in handy to start adding up some points and perks.

• Cash in those credit-card points. A lot of us forget about the prizes and perks we can cash in through credit cards. This is the time to use them. Find out how many points you have and apply them toward accommodations.

• Have a relative in the town you’re visiting? Crashing there for even one night can save money. If your vacation will be longer than a day or two, find motels or bed-and-breakfasts that will offer a lower rate for an extended stay. After all ,chances are you’ll only be using it to sleep, why spend a fortune on a five-star hotel?

• If your idea of getting away is to spend it at a resort, look for all-inclusive deals that bundle all the fun stuff in one.

Food

• We’ve all gotta eat. If you’re hitting the road, save on the gas station stops and pack snacks from home. Granola bars, whole fruit, sandwiches and nuts make great options.

• If eating out sounds good, look for your favorite places and check the menu before you head out. It can help you find the best combination of quality, quantity and price. Also, buying gift cards to your favorite restaurants can save money on gas.

• Making it an weeklong vacation? Look for a hotel that has a minifridge so you can buy and stash essentials for snacks and lunch. Sandwiches are easy to make and affordable so you can splurge on dinner. If you’re camping or staying mostly outdoors, bring a cooler and pack snacks and drinks. Buying them ahead of time can help you save.

Like many things, planning pays off. Having a route or itinerary set not only makes the trip easier, it keeps your wallet full.