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Great Escapes (on the Cheap)

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Beware of hidden fees. Expect to pay extra for oversize or heavy luggage (50-plus pounds), and more than one checked bag (some airlines even make you pay for your first checked bag). Other amenities that used to be free -- food, soda, juice, and even water; aisle and bulkhead seats; supervision for children flying unaccompanied by an adult; and pet carriage -- can quickly add up. To see how much flying will cost you, go to kayak.com/airline-fees.

Car Rental Caution

Airport-based counters may charge up to 10 percent more than city outlets. So if your hotel provides shuttle service from the airport, take it -- and rent the vehicle in town. Also compare daily versus weekly rates. While it seems counterintuitive, it may actually cost less to book a car for a full week rather than the four days you need it (then return the car early). Don't forget to ask your hotel if it charges a daily parking fee.

Take the A Train: Amtrak

Riding Amtrak can often be cheaper than flying, especially for those traveling along the East Coast. The Amtrak Adirondack heads from New York City to Montreal, starting at $62 per adult (kids, 2 to 15, travel for about half the price of an adult) and $186 for a family of four one way, versus an average airfare of $400 per person. Amtrak also offers discounts for military, senior citizens, students, and AAA members.

Originally published in the April 17, 2009, issue of Family Circle magazine.

 

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