TODAY

TODAY   |  March 13, 2013

Budget vacations: Save on transportation, meals

Nilou Motamed of Travel + Leisure and Farnoosh Torabi of Yahoo discuss some of the money-saving travel strategies sent in by TODAY viewers that can help you have the time of your life without breaking the bank.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back at 8:51 with today's travel. you don't have to spend a fortune to take a great vacation. the proof is in e-mails you sent us talking about the budget friendly trips you have taken. ladies, good morning to you both.

>> good morning.

>> the viewers sent these great ideas. the idea here is you're going to take them and do better and tell them how to save more money. let's get to the first e-mail from linda in charlotte, north carolina . my boyfriend and i always wanted to go to new orleans but money was an obstacle. the opportunity arose to attend the jazz and gumbo festival in new orleans . we took advantage of mega bus for the transportation. the cost $35 for both of us round trip . it allowed us to stay at a nice hotel. we came back with money in our pockets. talk about mega bus.

>> love it. there is also gold bus and greyhound express. discounts getting you from city to city for as low as a dollar. go on 30 to ha days before the trip for the best prices.

>> you go to new orleans . you like the city for a budget trip. there are a lot of ways to do things inexpensively.

>> new orleans is a great place to save money. they have amazing vintage trolleys for $1.25. amazing louisiana food like mother's or a place called morning call for the best beignets in oriolnew orleans or the jazz festival for a great feeling of authentic new orleans style.

>> sometimes just to hear great music you pay for one beer.

>> right.

>> hawaii on a budget. this is from janell in houston. last year we treated our family of six to a dream vacation to hawaii. we used air miles to travel for free. we rented a house an hour from the beach $325 a night. everything was there. beach toys, surfboards, snorkel gear, beach towels and sand chairs. we prepared fabulous meals in our home. what did they do right?

>> she maximized her rewards travel miles. for those at home who want to do the same get a card that rewards you for airlines that you love or is airline agnostic like bank rate.com or credit card.com.

>> you say they should have considered swapping homes.

>> they could do better. spend no money on the home by doing a home exchange . we love home exchange .com or house swap . the reason i love it is because you really feel like a local. the stuff they got in the house they didn't have deal with schlepping it from home.

>> andrea says my husband and i took a 3,000 mile from washington to california, nevada and through sacramento. we found a road pro crock pot that plugged into the cigarette lighter. we took our cooler, heated up leftovers from home in the crock pot . stayed with friends and family. only one night in a hotel. three meals out, groceries and gas. okay, the crock pot meals in the car is a little much. what did they do right?

>> they went for freebies. now there are sites like couch surfing.com. this family did it organically but you can connect with locals where you are headed. go to couch surfing.com. type in the destination to meet locals who will invite you over for free dinner or free lodging.

>> road trip . you have to pay for gas.

>> especially in the summer time. we worry about the cost of gas. gas buddy.com has a free app. find the closest gas station to you and compare prices before you get to the pumps.

>> we'll read the next e-mail and put stuff on the website so people can find out more. the most fun my boys had on a trip cost me zero. this is from missy in tennessee. in 1997 i took the boys to gatlinburg to my dad's timeshare. one night we ate pizza in the room oh. the next day we cut the pizza box into two pieces and rode into the smoky mountains sliding down on the pizza boxes. necessity is the mother of invention.

>> creativity is free.

>> priceless.

>> we'll put a lot of ideas on the website. thank you so much. appreciate it. coming up, take three. is there an ideal age gap for couples? first, your local news.