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For many of us across the country, the cold weather is settling in. Some people crave the winter season, but for others it gets old quickly. The first snowfall is magical, the second is pretty, the third barely tolerable. After that the freezing temps, blustery winds and icy precipitation just bring daydreams of warmer locales.

A trip can be a reality even for those of us who aren’t rich. Start saving now and follow these steps to get the most bang for your buck. Here are five ways to save on last-minute vacations.

1. Ask Questions

Nothing is set in stone. Repeat this mantra to yourself. When you are booking your travel, hotel, excursions and anything else, ask for a better deal. Make sure you are getting the best rate. See if you qualify for any specials. Once they give you a price, try negotiating. Most hotels would rather get some money by filling a room rather than get nothing for leaving it empty.

2. Book a Package Deal

Travel agencies – both physical and online – often offer package deals. Sometimes you can save big by booking your flight and hotel at the same time. Be sure to check that this is true before you pay. Don’t just assume, but do your research. If you tend to overspend, look into all-inclusive deals. This options usually includes all meals during your trip and can sometimes include drinks. All-inclusives allow you to know upfront what the majority of the cost of your trip will be and keep you from being surprised by the bill at the end of your stay.

3. Don’t Buy Insurance You Don’t Need

Avoid unnecessary purchases. Look into the insurance policies you have before buying any additional ones. If you are looking at destinations outside the country, see if your health insurance will cover you in the event of a medical emergency. You may want to look into travel insurance, but read the policy carefully before signing up. The fine print may have stipulations that leave you paying a large bill and not getting much. If you are renting a car, you may not need that extra rental insurance. Your car insurance or credit card may already cover that. A little research ahead of time can save you an extra bill later.

4. Be Flexible

Are you itching to sit on a beach but don’t really care which one? Broaden your search to find the best deals. If it’s really just warmth you’re after, you can sometimes save money on a non-beach locale. By keeping your mind open about where you end up, you can have more money to spend once you get to your destination.

5. Rent the Stuff You Leave Behind

This is a great way to offset the cost of a vacation. If you feel comfortable renting out the things you will be leaving behind, give it a try. Whether you find someone to use your home, your car or just your driveway, it can bring in money to pay for at least part of the trip. Pick a reputable organization or use your network to find renters. You can get paid and also not worry about leaving your home or car empty for the time you will be away.

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