Ticket to Ride

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Traveling can be a very expensive endeavor.

Once you are off of your home turf there are truly so many avoidable ways to blow your money on poor value.

Flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and eating out; each offers myriad possibilities for waste.

The solution to the flight piece is travel hacking and collecting miles.

The solution to the lodging piece; either hotel credit cards, or booking value hotel rooms with cash equivalent points.

I’m a foodie, so eating out is the last place I look to scrimp on vacation. You’ll get no helpful advise from me on that. (But please leave any tips for frugal vacation eating in the comment section that you’d like to share with other readers.)


Snack on a budget MD2 style (after 6:00PM only)

Which leaves rental cars.

There’s a lot of great information out there in the blogosphere about how to get deals on rental cars.

Rather than reinventing the wheel I thought I would act as an aggregator and provide links to some articles from fellow bloggers, with a brief summary of each, followed by my simplified strategy distilled from these sources.

Daraius at millionmilesecrets.com wrote this exhaustive series on getting the best rental car deal.

As Daraius is wont to do he really gets into the weeds in this series, devoting a detailed post to each possible tool you could use for getting a good deal on a rental car. He offers detailed screenshot by screenshot tutorials on how to use each of the tools.

This is a great resource if you are looking for help with a specific resource, but I find it a bit overwhelming since I don’t want to check 15 different sites prior to booking a rental car.

Frequent Miler, as always, does a fantastic job of distilling data into an actionable approach.

In this post he documents an apples to apples comparison of a booking to investigate a bunch of online sites.

His conclusion is that in this instance, The Chase Ultimate rewards portal offered the best deal.

In this follow up post, he concludes that Priceline might be even better, and shows how to under bid in order to get a consolation booking price better than the competitors offers.

(The downside being that Priceline bookings are nonrefundable.)

In this recent post from Matt at saverocity.com, he happens upon a surprising finding. Bookings with the kayak app on an iPhone display far better results then when booking with kayak on a computer. Great stuff.

So what is my approach? Below is my stepwise approach (with the quoted price in parentheses) for an eight day intermediate sized rental for my upcoming spring break trip to Maui.  The whole process took about 20 minutes.  It was time well spent.

1. Check the Costco travel price. ($436)

2. Check the kayak.com app price on my iPhone. ($383)

3. Check the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal price. (Not necessarily refundable: ($284))

4. Consider the Priceline price.  (A non-refundable purchase. ($436.44))

So the clear winner for me was The Ultimate Rewards Mall.

Now you may be asking yourself, “How come you are getting an intermediate size car Dr. Miles dividend M.D.? I thought you were frugal.”

And the answer is: I didn’t book an intermediate size car. I booked an economy car on the Ultimate Rewards Portal for $246 for the eight days.

I am frugal (or a cheapskate, your choice.) So I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to fit my entire family, two car seats, a surfboard, and our luggage into an economy car.


How the Dividend MDs will roll in paradise


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