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Insider secrets to an affordable road trip

Published On: Feb 03 2012 09:41:32 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2012 08:54:38 AM CST
Road trip vacation, car on map

iStock / Bosca78

(NewsUSA) - Whether traveling for business or pleasure, most people will take at least one road trip this year, and when they do, they'll be looking for value.

To help get the most out of your next trip, here are five insider secrets from travel expert and life-long hotelier, Rajiv Bhatia.

1. Book Your Hotel Direct. Shopping around is always a good idea, and it seems like new websites pop up every day to help travelers do just that. That's great for comparing offerings, but when you've made your choice, book directly with the hotel or brand. More often than not, you'll be offered a lower price as well as a best-rate guarantee.

2. Pass On Car Rental Insurance. Rather than paying the insurance that car rental companies provide for a fee, check your personal policy. Often, your plan will include a travel clause that you may not be aware of, saving you as much as $30 a day. To save even more, don't worry about the size of the rental car you are reserving and go with the smallest size offered. The most compact cars usually get overbooked and sell out fast, often leading to a free upgrade.

3. Don't Pay For What's Free. Spend your money on fun, not on hotel Internet fees and expensive breakfasts. Stick with hotels that offer these amenities at no cost.

4. Slow Down On The Highway. Savor the journey to your destination; it doesn't pay to rush. Driving in excess of 60 miles per hour will waste gas and money. For every five miles over, you car can lose as much as 23 percent fuel efficiency.

5. Brand Loyalty Pays. Hotel loyalty programs let travelers earn points for their stays, points that can be redeemed for gift cards, free nights and more. When you stay with competing brands, it's likely you won't earn enough points for rewards. Stay with only one brand or its affiliates and watch your point balance grow.