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Travel Tip: Before You Book, Compare Apples to Apples

The fine print that's tacked onto travel offers can be confusing to say the least, but when it comes to figuring out whether or not you're getting a real deal, channel something you're very familiar with — grocery shopping. Determining the value of travel promotions is a little bit like paying attention to the unit prices on supermarket products. Put the fine print aside for a moment, and focus on the numbers.

Travel writers Suzanne Rowan Kelleher and Katrina Brown Hunt suggest comparing apples to apples to figure out whether or not a deal is actually a deal. They use the "5th Night Free Plus $100" at the Wyndham Sugar Bay in St. Thomas as an example. The duo explains, the "package rate starts at $219 a night, compared to the lowest available rate of $170 a night, which is an advanced-purchase nonrefundable rate. Even after you subtract the cost of the free night, you'd pay $876 for a five-night stay, versus the $850 you’d pay for five nights at the advanced purchase rate."

Next time you're about to book a trip, take the time to compare nightly rates at the same hotel and for the same days. You might be surprised to find more savings outside the promotional hype.

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