Money-Saving Moves to Cut Travel Costs

Just as other people collect stamps or Wedgwood china, I collect money-saving travel tips. Here are a few I recently acquired:

* By taking along a small electric immersion coil (available for $10 to $12 at most hardware stores), you can cook in your hotel room at a considerable savings. You plug it in, stick it in a cup of water, bring the liquid to a boil, toss in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, even instant soup or noodles, and voila! You have the makings of a snack. It's even better if you remember to pick up some rolls, pastries, jam and cheese during your outings. (Also remember to take an adapter for foreign travel.)

* After reserving a rental car for your next trip, keep calling the rental company as the date approaches; you'll often find that the price has come down. If it has, simply cancel the original reservation and substitute a new reservation at the lower price. When sales are slow, rentals often are progressively reduced in advance of a given date.

And don't forget to scan the rental companies' Web sites. They often offer lower rates than the ones they're willing to accept from other, more comprehensive travel Web sites.

* You can save up to 20% on your meals at numerous restaurants throughout the nation by consulting The new Web site of the popular Transmedia discount card, offers two types of membership. One is free and entitles you to airline mileage privileges or points when dining at participating restaurants, and some occasional discounts. The other, called iDine Prime, costs $49 per year for full-scale discount privileges. Though the fee-based membership extends to more than 7,000 restaurants, the free membership is also quite valuable and should be considered.

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