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Save money when planning a getaway

Friday - 8/19/2011, 9:18am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

UNDATED - A little effort can save a lot when it comes to planning a vacation.

Some airlines change flight prices three times a day. Clear out your computer's cookies each time before you check for new fares. Otherwise, old prices could pop up.

Reconsider using search engine sites to find cheap fares. Airlines attempting to lure customers to their websites offer web-specific incentives. Many airlines also send out fare alerts if you sign up to receive them.

Booking a rental car for several days check the weekly rate that might be cheaper. A collection of travel tips from USA TODAY also recommends renting vehicles from off-airport locations to save money.

Topping off your rental car tank before returning it can be less expensive by consulting web sites that show you where to buy the cheapest gas. You can find the cheapest gas prices here.

For less expensive snacking and shopping at the airport, the smart phone application GateGuru offers coupons from retailers and restaurants at airport gates near your location. Gateguru has deals with stores in 115 airports.

Booking a hotel room you might be able to get a discount lower than the going rate by calling the hotel. Skip the 800 phone number and call the local number directly.

You also might consider skipping the hotel and renting a home. Last-minute vacation rentals are more plentiful now than in previous years. Some vacation rentals are offered at discounts of up to 40 percent.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)